Johann Simon MAYR (1763-1845)
Concerto for Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Basset Horn and Orchestra in D minor, Concerto Bergamasco (1820) [24:57]
Keyboard Concerto in C major (c. 1800) [16:17]
Trio Concertante for Three Violins and Orchestra in A minor(c. 1820) [12:09]
Natalie Schwaabe (flute and piccolo), Andrea Steinberg (clarinet and basset horn), Antonio Spiller, Yi Li and David van Dijk (violins), Franz Hauk (harpsichord)
Bavarian Classical Players/Franz Hauk
rec. 19-22 September 2007, Fahnensaal, Neues Schloss, Ingolstadt, Germany
NAXOS 8.570927 [53:36]
This really is an ‘innocent ear’ review as neither the music nor the players are at all familiar to me. Mayr was born near Ingolstadt, Bavaria, and made his home in Italy, where he established a fine music school. He was also a prolific opera composer and dabbled in many other genres too. In his succinct liner-notes Franz Hauk points out that Spohr regarded Mayr as so immersed in the Italian musical tradition that he’d lost all traces of his German roots.
To some extent the irrepressible lift and easy warmth of the works on this disc bear this out but really few works are entirely devoid of others’ influence; the Concerto Bergamasco is no exception. The flute-drenched first movement has a Haydnesque bounce and beat, the almost martial timps providing a gruff counterpoint to all this glee. Natalie Schwaabe is a fine soloist, her silvered tones effortless and endearing; as for the orchestral playing it’s both spunky and spontaneous which makes for a delightful listen. Andrea Steinberg steals the show in the second movement. The disarming agility of her clarinet playing is well matched by the delicious burble from the band. She’s no less characterful on the basset horn, which features in the dark-hued third movement.
This concerto brims with charm, but it’s not short of invention either. There’s wit aplenty too and the good-natured toing and froing of the third movement is hugely entertaining. Mayr brings all the soloists together in the finale’s theme and variations, whose sometimes swooning manner is deftly handled by all concerned. Goodness, what deep-refreshing music this is, a cool fountain plashing most pleasurably on a hot, still afternoon.
Conductor Franz Hauk takes the harpsichord part in the Keyboard Concerto,whose opening Allegro has a distinctly Mozartian cast. The soloist is well balanced, a boon when the instrument’s limited dynamics mean it’s easily overwhelmed in boisterous company. The poise and understated elegance of Hauk’s playing is a real joy, notably in the Andantino, and I must say that the recording is one of the most alluring I’ve heard from Naxos in a while. The concluding Rondo dips and dances to giddying effect, but Hauk remains a steady, calming influence throughout. Yet another smile-inducing piece, played with all the breeze and brightness one could wish.
Brightness comes to mind in the Trio Concertante, but thankfully that’s more to do with the key than the recording which is as warm and well-behaved as the rest of this programme. The soloists are uniformly excellent and they play for all they’re worth when it’s their turn to take the spotlight. Although this work isn’t always as inventive as the others here it’s never less than accomplished and engaging. Huzzahs to Hauk and his orchestra for providing such sympathetic accompaniment; as for the Naxos engineers, their sterling efforts earn them a mention in despatches.
Music of lilt and loveliness, winningly played; a joyful discovery.
Dan Morgan  

Music of lilt and loveliness, winningly played; a joyful discovery. 

see also review by John Sheppard