MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: AmazonUK

Franz Xaver RICHTER (1709 - 1789)
Messa Pastorale [32:45]
Symphony in D [11:04]
Magnificat [13:20]
Marzena Lubaszka (soprano), Piotr Lykowski (alto), Maciej Gocman (tenor), Bogdan Makal (bass)
Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir, Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra/Andrzej Kosendiak
rec. 18-20 May 2008, Église Sainte-Marie of Mittlach, France. DDD
CYPRES CYP1659 [57:11]

Experience Classicsonline
Franz Xaver Richter is one of the representatives of what modern musicology calls the Mannheim School. A German study on the 'pre-classical' period, as the author calls it, characterises this school as the avant-garde of the 18th century. The musicians who worked at the court in Mannheim were an important link between the baroque era and the classical period. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, for instance, stayed in Mannheim for some time, and was fascinated by what he heard.

The names of these masters are mentioned in history books and programme notes, but their music is still hardly explored. We are talking here about the likes of Johann Stamitz, Ignaz Holzbauer, Anton Filz and Carlo Giuseppe Toeschi, who belong to the first generation. Franz Xaver Richter also belongs to this troupe who developed the quality of the court orchestra to such an extent that Charles Burney called it an 'army of generals'.

If the music of the Mannheim School is explored it is mostly the instrumental music, and in particular the orchestral music which is given attention. That is understandable, because it is through instrumental music that the Mannheim composers influenced the course of music history and laid the foundations of the classical style. But most of them also wrote vocal music, including sacred music. And so did Richter, although most of his vocal works date from his time in Strasbourg.

It is his activities in Mannheim which modern performers mostly focus on, but Richter worked for twenty years as maître de chapelle in Strasbourg Cathedral. He was appointed to this position in 1769, and remained in Strasbourg until his death in 1789. There was something special about the city: for a long time it was part of Germany, and under the influence of Protestantism. Only in 1681 was it unified with France, and the Cathedral reverted to Catholicism. David Mathieu Maurier, in his programme notes, suggests this could well explain the ideal working conditions of Richter. He had an orchestra of about 30 players at his disposal plus a choir. The annual budget amounted no less than 300,000 pounds. That was a way to strengthen the ties between the city and the king of France.

In his sacred works which are recorded on this disc Richter explored these possibilities. The Messe Pastorale is written for an orchestra which includes trumpets and drums. These are effectively used at various moments in his mass. They open the proceedings in the first Kyrie and are used in the 'Et resurrexit' from the Credo. But there are also softer tones in this mass. 'Et incarnatus est' is scored for soprano and alto solo, and this section begins with two flutes and bass, which are then joined by the strings. Interestingly Richter doesn't change the scoring for the next section, 'Crucifixus', suggesting the unity between the two.

The mass consists of a sequence of tutti and solo sections, but most solos are rather short. The two main solo sections are 'Domine Deus' (Gloria) for bass and the Benedictus for tenor. The latter ends with a cadenza. There are several polyphonic passages, but often the fugal beginnings quickly turn into homophony. Still, this mass shows that Richter in his sacred music aims at mixing modern fashion with traditional features.

The disc ends with a setting of the Magnificat. It begins with a tutti section which is followed by a solo for the soprano (Quia respexit) which ends with a cadenza. 'Et misericordia' is for solo quartet, and contains some strong dissonances. 'Fecit potentiam' is - hardly surprising - a solo for bass, whereas 'Esurientes' and 'Suscepit Israel' are duets for alto and tenor. In the Gloria patri the horns play a prominent role, whereas the closing of the doxology (Et in saecula saeculorum) is fugal.

In between is the Sinfonia in D which shows Richter as a composer of orchestral music. The first movement is typical for the Mannheim School, in particular because of the frequent crescendi. No less typical Mannheimian is the inclusion of Seufzer figures which we find in the andantino arioso. A lively presto, again full of dynamic contrasts, closes this symphony.

This is a most interesting disc which pays attention to a lesser-known aspect of the period between baroque and classicism. It is telling that the German study I was referring to before, almost completely ignores the sacred music of the Mannheim School. This recording shows that Richter's contributions to this genre have to be taken seriously and are well worth performing. Fortunately we get an interpretation here which successfully explores the qualities of Richter's music.

The four soloists were new names to me. I like their voices which are crisp and clear, and their articulation and diction is very good. The voices blend well, but in the quartets - 'Quiniam tu solus sanctus' in the Gloria from the Mass and 'Et misericordia' from the Magnificat the alto and tenor are a bit overshadowed by the soprano and bass. The cadenzas, and in particular that of the soprano, are too predictable.

The choir seems to be quite big, and I had preferred a less sizeable vocal ensemble, in particular as the orchestra doesn't seem to be that large. Although the recording was made in a church, the pictures suggest the building is not overly big. That results in satisfying acoustics, even in the symphony. The singing of the choir is very good, and so is the playing of the orchestra, both in the vocal works and in the symphony.

All in all, I am quite happy with this recording, and I hope more sacred music by Franz Xaver Richter is going to be performed and recorded.

Johan van Veen


Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.