Leopold MOZART (1719-1787)
Divertimento Militare, Cioè Sinfonia D-Dur (ca.1755) [19:53]
Sinfonia Burlesca in G (1760) [14:51]
Sinfonia Pastorella für Corno Pastoriccio G-Dur (1751) [12:18]
Sinfonia in G (1753) [7:19]
Sinfonie in G ‘Neue Lambacher’(1769) [17:48]
Münchener Kammerorchester/Hans Stadlmair
rec. 29-31 January 1998, Studio 2, Bayerischer Rundfunk, München
TUDOR 7066 [72:38]
Leopold MOZART (1719-1787)
Musikalische Schlittenfahrt [14:32]
Kinder-Sinfonie - Cassatio in G [18:24]
Sinfonie D-Dur [12:41]
Sinfonia da Caccia in G [13:13]
Münchener Kammerorchester/Hans Stadlmair
rec. 1995, dates and location not given.
TUDOR 737 [59:03]
Hans Stadlmair may not be one of the most familiar names on the conductor’s rostrum, but as artistic director of the Münchener Kammerorchester from 1956 to 1995 he had nearly four decades in order to make innumerable concert tours, radio broadcasts, and a wide variety of commercially available recordings, including the complete symphonies of Joseph Joachim Raff. I first came across his work with some of the more ‘novelty’ works of Leopold Mozart on an Orfeo CD which has a fun recording of the ‘Peasant Wedding’ Sinfonia, which includes bagpipes and a hurdy-gurdy in the outer movements. The brightly refreshing and refined orchestral sound Stadlmair obtains from his band is consistent through all of these recordings, making for a pleasurable listening experience even where the staying power of the music itself is not necessarily of the highest order. I’m not sure how much attention we would be paying to Leopold Mozart if he wasn’t the father of Wolfgang Amadeus, but as things go we probably have quite enough to keep us going right here.
Really? Is this fair? Starting with TUDOR 7066, the sense of fun and lightness of touch we know and love from Haydn isn’t so very far from what we hear in the Divertimento Militare. True, the fife and drum effects aren’t particularly subtle, but there are some fine melodic touches, and I love those little wobbly horn trills which add colour to some otherwise repetitive rondos. Humour is an even stronger element in the Sinfonia Burlesca, with some gorgeously novel elements: what now seem banal musical platitudes would have appealed greatly as ‘wrong’ or highly amusing aspects to this piece, and even now we can relish the heavy octave tread of the bassoon and some elegant lampooning of antique styles.
The Sinfonia Pastorella introduces the Alphorn or ‘Corno Pastoriccio’, and some delicious sonorities. The alphorn has a limited repertoire of notes, and Leopold weaves some strange harmonic inventions to keep up interest in music which has no hope of modulating to interesting keys. The pastoral feel is strongest in the final Presto which has several elements prescient of the peasant dances in Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony. One thing this CD is not short of is the key of G major, and the lively ‘Lambacher’ symphony is a rousing end to a fine orchestral disc. Dr. Peter Keller’s useful booklet notes point out that this four movement work is not to be confused with W.A. Mozart’s K45a three movement ‘Lambacher’ symphony, composed in the only part of The Hague now rich in second-hand and discount CD shops.
Stadlmair ensures that there is a clear continuo presence in his orchestral sound, and the harpsichord helps to ensure that all of these well recorded works come up fresh and smelling of roses.
Moving on to TUDOR 737, and while the Musicals Sleighride is full of jingly bells and some nice programmatic effects in the ‘Shivering young lady’ movement which fans of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ can relish, the actual musical content is distinctly unmemorable. Fun effects are a main feature of the Toy Symphony, here played with plenty of verve. Arguments abound as to who actually wrote this piece, and the name of Haydn crops up among others, but whatever the truth this recording is something to behold in wonderment.
A wind machine played as ‘tuned percussion’, a terrific children’s choir, a somewhat over-refined recorder Cuckoo, mobile bird calls, rattles and the rest, this is always going to be a novelty winner. There are a fair few alternatives to this recording in the catalogue, and they no doubt all have their own idiosyncratic strengths. If I have any comment on this one is that it is perhaps too professionally refined and serious, and the sense of ‘fun’ is only in the instruments used rather than in the manner of performance.
The final two works are both three movement in form. The Sinfonie in D major is full of robust energy and major/minor contrast in the opening Allegro molto, has a nicely eloquent central Andante, and more trumpet and drum impact in the final Allegro. This is one of those pieces you don’t expect to make much of an impression, but which turns out to have a decent enough menu of welcome surprises. Better known is the Sinfonia da Caccia, replete with recorded hunting sound effects of horse’s hooves and baying hounds. This, along with some rather weak sounding gunshots, is something which was done much better by Hermann Baumann on his ‘Concerti da caccia’ album on Philips, which I seem to recall was all done ‘live’ rather than with tape effects. This is a nice enough recording and very well played, but doesn’t whip up much excitement and novelty ‘wow’ factor.
The haughty looking doll on the cover of this CD says a great deal - nice music, but more something for private enjoyment than a disc you will be reaching for every time Hi-Fi novelty fun-seekers drop by to hear your massive woofers. Over-politeness aside, this is another attractive disc which is certainly worth seeking out. Both discs reviewed here, and probably anything else conducted by Hans Stadlmair you may come across, all have the DC seal of approved quality and music-safety kite-mark.
Dominy Clements
Consistent quality - approved and appreciated.