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Johann Evangelist BRANDL (1760-1837)
Symphonie Concertante, Op. 20 [30:31]
Overture Nanthild, das Mädchen von Valbella Op. 50 [8:03]
Symphony in D major, Op. 25 [24:41]
David Castro-Balbi (violin), Alexandre Castro-Balbi (cello)
Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Kevin Griffiths
rec. 2018, Philharmonie Ludwigshafen
CPO 555 227-2 [63:26]

So far as concert life is concerned the gentle light of Johann Brandl has been hidden under at least one bushel. Not that an earlier CPO disc has not been appreciatively reviewed here. Quite apart from what else may have been revived in recorded form, another label (MDG) also furnish two CDs of Brandl’s Quintets.

Brandl’s Symphonie Concertante looks back, consciously or not we will likely never know, to Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K364. Brandl’s too is a concertante work for two solo instruments although not the same ones as blessed by Mozart. The Castro-Balbi brothers make the most of Brandl’s gift for gusty and gutsy lyricism. This three-movement half-hour work inhabits a tuneful and far from dull hinterland between Stamitz and Hummel. It touches and entertains without quite attaining the dazzle and poignancy found among the ineffable heights of K364.

We discover a stormy tunefulness in the overture to Brandl’s opera Nanthild, das Mädchen von Valbella., It is from the first decade of the nineteenth century and like the Op. 25 symphony comes from Brandl’s final and long Karlsruhe years; he lived until his late seventies. The charming symphony in D major has been recorded by this label and these forces before but is that an alternative version? I have not heard the earlier CPO disc but you can read Michael Wilkinson’s review here where it is timed at 26:04 as against 24:41 here. There are the same number of movements but the tempo/mood markings seem to differ. Its second movement (Andante) looks back to the mood of the Op. 20 work with a significant solo for violin before a Haydnesque section. The third movement is a vehicle for Brandl’s serenading ways and the finale positively flies.

There is much to be enjoyed here; not least the attentive and fervent attentions of the conductor and orchestra. As a rough and ready orientation, these three works will likely appeal to those who enjoy Beethoven’s first symphony and piano concerto. There is nothing to be regretted about the sound captured by CPO; likewise, their welcome liner notes by Isabel Steppeler who keeps things accessible without generalisation.

Rob Barnett

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