Anton EBERL (1765-1807)
Trio in B flat, for fortepiano, violin and cello, op.8 no.2 (1798) [26:19]
Potpourri en Trio in E flat, for fortepiano, clarinet and cello, op.44 (1803) [11:56]
Grand Sextet in E flat, for fortepiano, violin, viola, cello, clarinet and horn, op.47 (1800) [30:56]
Trio Van Hengel (Nicole van Bruggen (clarinet); Thomas Pitt (cello); Anneke Veenhoff (fortepiano)); Alida Schat (violin); Vappu Helasvuo (viola); Bart Aerbeydt (horn)
rec. Old Catholic Church, Delft, South Holland, April 2009 and March 2010. DDD
RAMEE RAM 1103 [69:15]
Another CD, another neglected composer of genius. Austrian Anton Eberl was very highly regarded by his contemporaries in his grievously short life, being widely considered the equal of Mozart, Haydn and the young Beethoven, alongside whose Sinfonia Eroica Eberl's own E flat Symphony was premiered - and by at least one critic deemed superior! Several of Eberl's piano works were even published as by Mozart, something which Eberl and Constanze Mozart fought to rectify. As late as 1944 Eberl's Symphony in C was heralded in Italy as a new Mozart discovery.
Sadly, much of Eberl's music is lost, but what remains is, on the evidence of the few recordings available to date, of the highest quality, not least the selections performed by the Trio Van Hengel and friends, on this disc and its companion, released on Ramée in 2006 (RAM 0601). Unfortunately, the Trio's founding cellist Bas van Hengel died shortly after that recording, his position now assumed by Thomas Pitt.
Dating from only a fistful of years after his music was often considered stylistically inseparable from Mozart's, the three works in this programme showcase a now wholly original talent, and in opp. 44 and 47 a modernist of similar cut to Johann Hummel. This really is excellent music: as deep as it is broad, brimming with vigour, poetry, harmony and brilliance. Factor in the unusual, but delightful colourings of the hugely imaginative Grand Sextet, the thrilling bravura yet delicate expressiveness of the Potpourri en Trio, and the Mozartean lyricism of the B flat Trio - in the finale Eberl pays tribute to his deceased friend with a brief paraphrase from The Magic Flute - and the result is seventy minutes of musical heaven.
The fortepiano in this recording is a six-octave 1810 Mathias Müller restoration, and its adorable tone is almost worth the asking price of the CD on its own. When elegantly played by someone of Anneke Veenhoff's artistry, it accentuates the undeniably progressive leanings in Eberl's music, not just the Romantic vision, but also his big-handed, fleet-fingered exploitation of the entirety of the keyboard in a manner that went well beyond Mozart. Nicole van Bruggen's clarinet is just as delectable in the Potpourri and Sextet, but whether six soloists or three, the ensemble music-making here is of the highest order.
Sound recording is very good too. The trilingual CD booklet, housed in an attractively designed digipak case, is a paragon of well-written, detailed information, expertly translated into English - many labels would benefit greatly from following this model. A single misprint has the two Symphonies by Eberl and Beethoven referred to above as being in B flat rather than E flat.
This is already sure to be one of the best releases of 2012.
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This really is excellent music: as deep as it is broad, brimming with vigour, poetry, harmony and brilliance.