I have never heard or seen the Concilium Musicum Wien live though I often heard of them, especially during the years that I lived in Germany. They have a very good website
, which among other things contains the history of the ensemble. It was founded in 1982 by Paul Angerer and his son Christoph with the aim of performing music of the 18th
century in the way that it was performed at the time. Their repertoire extends from baroque to dance music of the 19th
century but their speciality is to dig out rare manuscripts from the archives and bring to life works that have largely been forgotten and never, or seldom, heard in modern times.
The present CD was recorded live in 2013, as the anniversary concert of the 40th
Haydn Cycle which took place at the Festsaal of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. The programme offered here is of six minuets composed by Johann Michael Haydn, a composer largely overshadowed and often neglected. I suppose he had the bad luck to be related to Franz Joseph Haydn, his much celebrated older brother. Johann Michael was also a skilled, prolific composer much admired in his day, including by none other than Mozart. Michael Haydn’s minuets are interesting from a historical perspective and to hear them performed on valuable original period instruments – such as those used by the Concilium Musicum Wien – is a rare treat indeed. Personally, I am not a great fan of minuets. They were very popular in the 18th
century as a dance but were also used in symphonic works. Michael Haydn’s are as good as it gets and we know from letters exchanged between Mozart and his sister Nannerl that she much enjoyed Michael’s minuets and asked her brother to transcribe their violin parts for piano. Wolfgang did so but his transcriptions have sadly been lost. I would recommend reading the CD booklet notes, written by Paul Angerer himself. They are very informative and describe the history of this music and all the others in detail, with excerpts from newspapers of the time, as well as from Nannerl’s and Wolfgang’s letters.
The Concilium’s interpretation of Michael Haydn’s music is, as expected, excellent and has a very authentic sound. Much more interesting was for me to hear Joseph Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante played on period instruments. The piece is not one of Haydn’s best known works and was for many years largely forgotten. It is however, like most of Haydn’s orchestral music, unusual and adventurous. The Concilium’s performance is rather exciting, particularly in the third and final movement. The violin solo, which I assume is performed by Christoph Angerer, is simply outstanding and its interchange with the orchestra is executed to perfection. The piece is played in a light, humorous tone but with virtuosic precision. Very enjoyable and one to listen to over and over again, as it appeared to increase in quality each time I played the CD.
The disc finishes with Mozart’s glorious Jupiter Symphony, composed in Vienna in 1788, approximately two years before the composer’s death. The piece is in four movements, the epitome of musical classicism, but it is Mozart’s imagination that makes it stand out from others of the period, which were constructed in the same manner. Mozart was a master of the stage and as such, he knew how to build in dramatic effects to perfection, as well as poignant and witty moments full of humour. The intrinsic beauty of the Jupiter penetrates the skin and when well performed, brings me close to tears, particularly in its slow second movement Andante cantabile with its restless minor key episodes. I have seldom heard this symphony played better than in this recording. The performance brings the piece to life in all its splendour, highlighting the drama, the contrasts and the gentler moving moments with great clarity and beauty. The orchestra comes across as an exceptionally effective ensemble, virtuosic at times but always cohesive even in the luminous tutti outbursts during the third movement Menuetto, Allegretto. This is particularly the case, in the Finale, Molto Allegro where they manage exceptionally well to express collectively all the tension and dramatic emotion patent throughout the movement, bringing the piece to a most satisfying resolution.
Mozart is one of my favourite composers and I think the Jupiter is a forerunner of what was to come with Beethoven a few years later. This is probably why I was more partial to the Concilium’s interpretation of the symphony than to the pieces by the two Haydns. However, in all, this is a lovely recording of an extraordinary work – the Mozart – and of some seldom heard pieces by the two Haydn brothers. It is at times delightful and truly enjoyable. The Concilium gives a quality performance throughout and their interpretation of Mozart’s splendid symphony is second to none. Sit back and enjoy.
(Margarida writes more than just reviews, check it online at www.flowingprose.com
Masterwork Index: Mozart