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Georg Christoph WAGENSEIL (1715–1777)
Symphonies Volume 2
Symphony in C, op.5/5, WV 361 [10:04]
Symphony in F, WV 398 (Overture to the opera, Il Siroe) (1748) [6:33]
Symphony in D, op.3/1, WV 374 [11:09]
Symphony a 6 in A, WV 432 [8:52]
Symphony in E, op.13/3, WV 393 [11:21]
Symphony in A, op.12/5, WV 421 (Overture to the opera, Demetrio) (1746) [6:20]
Stuttgarter Kammerorchester/Johannes Goritzki
rec. 15–18 November 2004, Liederkranzhalle, Stuttgart–Botnang DDD
CPO 7771122 [54:24]
Experience Classicsonline

It’s sometimes easy to forget that there were other composers hard at work at the same time as Haydn and Mozart, composers who were forging ahead with the development of forms which we now take for granted.
Born in Vienna, Wagenseil became a favourite pupil of Johann Joseph Fux, Kapellmeister at he Viennese Court, where later, in 1739, he became court composer, holding this position for the rest of his life, as well as harpsichordist and organist to the Court. In 1749 he was appointed Hofklaviermeister to the imperial archduchesses. He taught Johann Baptist Schenk (who later taught Beethoven) as well as Marie Antoinette. Both Haydn and Mozart were familiar with his works and he was a well–known figure in his day. Amongst other things he wrote sixteen operas, three Oratorios, Masses, Cantatas, other sacred vocal music, Symphonies, Harpsichord Concertos, other solo concertos, chamber music for strings alone or with keyboard or winds and numerous solo keyboard pieces.
Each of these six Symphonies is set in the Italian Overture mold: fast – slow – fast (although the second fast movement doesn’t recapitulate music from the first and on two occasions it is a minuet) and each part is a true movement not a part of a continuous whole.
There’s a lot to enjoy here and it’s fascinating how much variety there is in these small works. For instance, the Symphony in C, op.5/5, WV 361 begins with a real fast movement, all fire and passion with dramatic pauses, and the orchestral palate is really quite colourful. There’s a lot of humour in Symphony in F, WV 398 while Symphony in D, op.3/1, WV 374 has the most delightfully skittish opening movement and its slow movement is quite Mozartean in its pathos.
I need not go on for it’s obvious what these pieces are about and what they are like. Here is the Symphony in embryo, which was to be taken up, in exactly this form, and expanded and knocked about until it becomes what we now accept as the classical Symphony. A later generation would start to do other things to it but here, taking its first fledgling steps is the modern Symphony and it’s lovely to be in at the beginning of things.
There are no towering masterpieces here, nothing which will inflame the passions but we do have the work of a man who probably considered himself to be a jobbing musician who had no idea that he was helping to set in motion what would become the greatest achievement in instrumental music – the Symphony. We should celebrate him for this alone.
The performances are sprightly and well thought out, with playing of some brilliance. The recording is warm and full and the notes are very good. I’m sorry I missed Volume 1!
Bob Briggs


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