Johann Simon MAYR (1763-1845)
Concerto in D minor, for flute, clarinet, basset horn, piccolo and orchestra (1820) [24:57]
Keyboard Concerto in C (c.1800) [16:17]
Trio Concertante in A minor, for three violins and orchestra (c.1820) [12:09]
Natalie Schwaabe (flute, piccolo)
Andrea Steinberg (clarinet, basset horn)
Antonio Spiller, Yi Li, David van Dijk (violins)
Bavarian Classical Players / Franz Hauk (harpsichord)
rec. Neues Schloss, Fahnensaal, Ingolstadt, Germany, 19-22 September 2007. DDD
NAXOS 8.570927 [53:36]
German composer (Johann) Simon Mayr is best known today for his important role in the development of opera seria, particularly in Italy, where he spent much of his life and indeed taught Donizetti. His instrumental music remains relatively unknown, which is quite a pity: this recording highlights his ability to write attractive music of superior craftsmanship and no little inspiration.
Mayr was a prominent figure in Bergamo, which accounts for the title of the concerto that starts things off. As the accompanying notes make clear, 'Concerto Bergamasco' is not Mayr's title, which was the more prosaic 'Concerto per Flauto, Clarinetto, Corno Bassetto ed Ottavino'. It comes instead from its first appearance in print as late as 1978, "with some retouching by Heinrich Bauer." Nor is it a quadruple concerto exactly: as an orchestrator Mayr was something of an experimenter, and here he takes the unusual step of assigning a movement to each instrument - in Mayr's day all intended to be played by its dedicatee, the multi-soloist Giovanni Sangiovanni. The final movement, where all four instruments appear, is especially memorable, but the whole concerto is packed with lyrical delight. The chipper, colourful Haydnesque Concerto in C for harpsichord - the instrument indicated by the autograph, despite the late date - and the Trio Concertante for three violins, itself reminiscent at times of Mozart's violin concertos, contribute their own idiomatic pleasures to a programme of wide and enduring appeal.
The Bavarian Classical Players are all members of the illustrious Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Franz Hauk is a veteran of many recordings for Naxos, all but one of Mayr's (choral) music. All the musicians featured here play with commendable verve and precision. Sound quality is good - not always a given in recordings originating in Germany. Appropriately it was made at Ingolstadt in Bavaria, near to where Mayr was born. Conductor/harpsichordist Franz Hauk's notes are informative, well written and well translated. The only blot as far as this disc is concerned is the short running time, but that should not deter anyone appreciative of late-Classical musical elegance and invention.
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Late-Classical music of elegance and invention.

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