Pieter van MALDERE (1729-1768)
Sinfonia in g minor, op. 4,1 [17:12]
Sinfonia in D, op. 5,1 [16:31]
Sinfonia in A (Viola Obligata)* [12:40]
Sinfonia a 4 in F* [12:22]
The Academy of Ancient Music/Filip Bral
Pavlo Beznosiuk, Pauline Nobes (violin)*, Rachel Byrt (viola)*,
Thomas Pitt (cello)*, Paula Chateauneuf (theorbo)*
rec. 20-21 October 2000, Academiezaal in St.-Truiden, Belgium. DDD
ETCETERA KTC 4036 [58:47]
When music historians describe how the music aesthetic of the
baroque era gradually made way for that of classicism the name
of Pieter Van Maldere is seldom mentioned. In his own time he
was considered a pioneer of the newest trends in music, in particular
in the development of the symphony. Marc Vanscheeuwijck begins
his programme notes with a quotation from the Swiss lexicographer
Johann Georg Sulzer: "The symphonic allegros of the Netherlander
van Maldere can be considered to be models of this genre of
instrumental music; they possess all the afore-mentioned characteristics,
and testify to the greatness of this composer, whose untimely
death has robbed art of many more masterpieces of this kind".
Pieter Van Maldere was the third of ten children of a schoolmaster
in Brussels. Little is known about his musical education, but
it is likely he started as a boy singer in the chapel of Charles
of Lorraine, prince and governor of the Austrian Netherlands.
It is possible that Henri-Jacques De Croes, who became first
violinist of the chapel in 1744, was his teacher at the violin.
A document of 1746 mentions Van Maldere among the second violinists
of the chapel. In 1749 he became the leader of the orchestra.
Charles of Lorraine was clearly impressed with Van Maldere's
capabilities as he promoted him as much as possible. The good
personal relationship allowed him to make concert tours, for
instance to Dublin. Here he directed the Philharmonick Concerts.
He also appeared at the Concert Spirituel in Paris where his
performances met praise in the Mercure de France: "This
virtuoso has a beautiful bowstroke, much precision, and ways
all his own. His is a great talent". Later in his career
he developed into a kind of private musician to the prince.
He was able to compose and publish his music, and also became
involved in theatre productions, to which he contributed compositions
of his own.
But it was first and foremost his contribution to the genre
of the symphony which constitutes his historical importance.
Marc Vanscheeuwijk mentions several of the formal aspects of
his symphonies. For instance, the first and last movements of
his mostly three-movement symphonies show an early sonata-form.
Contemporaries noted especially the liveliness of the bass part.
Johann Adam Hiller wrote about the symphonies op. 4: "What
specifically distinguishes them from other symphonies, and makes
them uncommonly brilliant, is the hardworking bass, which is
always in motion, whether producing excellent imitation or strongly
supporting and animating the most artistic unity". The
symphonies are also notable for their melodious character, often
suggesting the influence of folk music. The fast movements have
infectious rhythms and there is an unmistakable connection to
the diverting music of the time. The two last symphonies on
this disc are especially noteworthy in this respect. They are
played here with single strings: two violins, viola, cello and
theorbo. I don't know - and the liner-notes don't tell - whether
the composer himself required this scoring. It would be interesting
to hear them with a larger ensemble, but the performances with
one instrument per part work quite well.
This is not the first disc to have been devoted to music by
Van Maldere. I know of at least one recording of four symphonies
by the Collegium Instrumentale Brugensis, on modern instruments,
probably dating from the 1980s; the disc, which appeared on
the small label Eufodia, fails to mention the recording date.
The present recording was originally released in 2001 by the
classical channel of Belgian public radio, and hasn't received
that much attention, as far as I know. Although the previous
recording is quite good and gives a good impression of Van Maldere's
qualities, these performances by The Academy of Ancient Music,
playing on period instruments, is definitely superior. They
strike the right chord as far as the character of the music
is concerned. The melodies are beautifully played, the slow
movements have a maximum of expression, and the fast movements
are sparkling and full of life. This disc is a splendid effort
by all participants. I would like to hear more of Van Maldere's
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