Pichl is hardly a household name, but in his day he was as big
a figure as any in the Mannheim set. He was a close friend of Karl
Ditters von Dittersdorf, and no less a musician than Haydn performed
his music at Eszterháza. It is easy to see why. Pichl's music
is stylish, skilfully composed and unfailingly delightful.
four symphonies collected here are compact, polished creations
that introduce and develop their material with great facility
and never outstay their welcome. Outer movements are brisk,
tuneful and jolly; andantes and minuets are charming. Like Dittersdorf,
Pichl was interested in classical mythology and gave his symphonies
names from antiquity. I cannot say that I was readily able to
identify the muses painted by the first three, or the goddess
painted by the fourth, from the music itself. However, I suspect
that this has more to do with Pichl's subtlety than any arbitrariness
on his part. For example, the third symphony on this disc, dedicated
to Clio, the muse of history, features an andante full of archaic
counterpoint. The first movement of the symphony named for Diana
features a two note motif that could be suggestive of the hunt,
though he does not resort to horn calls that would have been
a more obvious clue. In any case, whether or not you can tie
these symphonies to their immortal namesakes, you will almost
certainly enjoy them.
Mallon and his Toronto
band play Pichl's symphonies with style and enthusiasm. Their
committed advocacy of rarely heard music is one of the major
selling points of a growing number of Naxos discs, and this one is no exception.
For the record, their instruments are modern, but their performance
style is period-sensitive, with minimal vibrato from the strings
and hard sticks for the timpani. There is no harpsichord continuo;
none is necessary.
recorded sound is excellent and Allan Badley's liner notes provide
helpful biographical information, though a little more detail
on the music itself would have been welcome.
well filled and attractively priced disc can be warmly recommended
to anyone looking to explore the Classical era beyond Haydn
see also Review
by Glyn Pursglove