The Bohemian Kozeluch
(properly I suppose Koželuh, though he spent his active composing
career in the Imperial hub of Vienna) was born Jan Antonin,
the same name as his then better-known cousin, the Prague Kapellmeister.
So he changed his name to Leopold, studied with his august cousin
and with Dusek [or Dusík] and gravitated to Vienna where he
gradually rose to the eminence of a position as Court Composer.
His relationship with Mozart seems to have been prickly, at
least on Mozart’s side, though it’s true to say that neither
Beethoven nor Haydn much cared for the Bohemian and one should
really take Haydn as a barometer in these matters.
we have become very slightly better acquainted with his music
over the years – but not much. The oratorio Moses in Egypt
has been recorded by CPO and some Divertimenti (dull) have been
done by Orfeo as well. The Clarinet Concerto has been recorded
by Emma Johnson for ASV. In its formality and reliance on classical
models it makes for not dissimilar bedfellows with the Piano
Concerto in D major. This was disced, as Americans like to say,
back in 1970 by that inveterate truffler, the late Polish pianist
Felicja Blumental, many of whose resurrected Brana discs I have
This is a worthwhile
disinterment. Sometimes those 1960s/early 70s Vox and similar
company LPs were muddy and subfusc but here we have the decent
Mozarteum Orchestra under the more than decent Leopold Hager
(whose unlikely-seeming LP box set of British music with the
Luxembourg Radio Symphony Orchestrastill sits on my shelves).
There’s a big first movement, pleasant, classical, Viennese,
with a great deal of room left for soloistic musing. The concerto
was actually written for his blind pupil, Marie Therese von
Paradis – you may well know her strikingly beautiful Sicilienne
– and it may account for the relatively straightforward rather
sectional nature of the work, somewhat repetitious, but sporting
a limpid slow movement with forward-looking Romantic hints.
Deftly the orchestral accompaniment is relaxed and discreet,
though there’s a taut, springy Haydn-esque finale.
There’s a modern
alternative should such a thing appeal though I’ve not heard
it - Novalis 150 160-2 with Karl-Andreas Kolly and the Zurich
Chamber Orchestra under Paul Goodwin and this is coupled with
two symphonies by Kozeluch.
The Mozart Concerto
will be of less interest given that it’s the C major.
But her association with Alberto Zedda and his zesty little
Prague band was generally a good one and so it proves here to
a large degree. The recording however does for the horns unfortunately
– very muddy – and also for the boomy, swirling percussion and
there’s a hapless edit at 2.27 in the first movement. The piano
is also too closely recorded, an invariable problem, and this
emphasises some heaviness in the solo playing, especially her
left hand. This together with some lack of heft and impetus
in tuttis rather hobbles this recording I’m afraid.
It’s for the Kozeluch
that this is most interesting, though the contemporary CD on
Novalis is the first port of call I would suppose. This is another
disc very much for Blumental’s admirers. It’s good to see rather
more extensive sleeve notes from Brana and small, captioned
photographs though I could have done without the excursion into
Elvira Madigan territory. Has anyone actually ever seen