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Johann Georg LICKL (1769-1843)
Quartet No. 1 in C major for Oboe and Strings, Op. 26  [14:20]
Quartet No. 2 in G major for Oboe and Strings, Op. 26 [10:51]
Quartet No. 3 in F major for Oboe and Strings, Op. 26 [14:48]
Cassation in E flat major for oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon  [24:36]
Trio in E flat major for clarinet, horn, and bassoon [12:17]
Lajos Lencés (oboe)
Natalie Chee (violin)
Paul Pesthy (viola)
Ansgar Schneider (cello)
Dirk Altmann (clarinet)
Wolfgang Wipfler (horn)
Libor Šíma (bassoon)
rec. 24-25 September 2010 Kammermusik-Studio, SWR, Stuttgart (Quartets) and 27 September 2015 Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche, Sommerrain, Stuttgart (Cassation, Trio)

These pieces by Johann Georg Lickl all date from the 1790s, when he was in Vienna, associated with Haydn and Emmanuel Schikander, librettist for Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Lickl finished his career in Pecs, writing a large amount of church music.

The chamber pieces on this disc are elegant, intelligent, and highly enjoyable. I wish “well-crafted” did not sound so condescending, as these are much more than expertly assembled and pleasant music. For many years the Cassation was imagined to be by Mozart, and one of the regrets of correctly identifying its composer has been to diminish the number of performances, for the name Lickl is not a box-office draw. Lickl was an Austrian who worked mostly in Hungary, an unexceptional arrangement under the Hapsburgs, but one which left Lickl without obvious champions in times of ardent nationalism.

Lickl clearly adheres to the models of high classicism, without seeming derivative. There is much in this music that would do any of his contemporaries proud. Not many of his compositions have been recorded. There is a fine Hungaroton recording of three string quartets, and another of two radiant masses, full of trumpets, drums and dramatic singing. As in the present disc, Lickl embellishes his grand classical structures with highly concertante writing, making his music a vehicle for virtuoso display.

The three oboe quartets are not inferior to Mozart’s better known Oboe Quartet in F, K370. Like Mozart, Lickl has written music that is brilliant rather than intense, and beguiling instead of heaven-storming.

The oboe quartets are given rather bravura performances by leading members of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, especially oboist Lajos Lencés. Oboe-fanciers know Lencés for his go-to recordings of much of the literature for the instrument. If you do not follow oboe virtuosi, you may simply enjoy his work here as a great musician. He also writes cogent notes for the CD.

The performances are on modern instruments, with excellent sound for the three oboe quartets, and a churchy boom only slightly marring the Cassation and Trio.

This is nearly unknown but wonderful and sophisticated music, by a minor master. The performances are world class.

Richard Kraus



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