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Joseph WÖLFL (1773–1812)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in E major, Op. 26 (1804) [34:13]
Concerto da Camera in E flat major, WoO 97 for piano, flute and strings (1810) [14:39]
Piano Concerto No. 3 in F, Op. 32 (1805) [21:36]
Nataša Veljkovic (piano)
Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim/Johannes Moesus
rec. 6-8 Dec 2016, Johanneshaus Niefern-Oschelbronn
CPO 555 149-2 [70:34]

This squares the circle first started with CPO 777 374 (review). The two discs now set out Wölfl’s piano concerto stall. They do this with sleight, conviction and splendour of execution. Although we have the same conductor presiding, both the soloist and the orchestra are change-rung from that earlier CPO issue.

If you glance at the composer’s dates it will come as little surprise that these concertos are a but a slight side-step distant from Mozart. They are fresh as a daisy rather than tired facsimiles. The orchestra is inventively deployed with French horns making brief but well calculated entries; try the first movement of No. 2 which was written in Paris. Given the dates, you might have expected some Beethoven in the DNA and there is some - say from the first two piano concertos. That said, it is the Mozart piano concertos 22 to 27 that coaxingly surface not least in the trippingly joyous finale of No. 2 which ends with both zest and a chuckle.

The shortish Concerto da Camera for piano, flute and strings was written six years later. It plays for just less than quarter of an hour yet is still in three movements. It adopts much of the style of the times but Wölfl always finds invention that rings the changes and revives. It’s very much a piano concerto with flute so the burden of charming the listener rests first and safely with the piano.

Nataša Veljkovic gives every appearance of being well adjusted to these works. She seems to own them in much the same way that Yorck Kronenberg did numbers 1, 4 (part), 5 and 6. The Third was the work by which the composer introduced himself to London audiences. It includes some sections that demand remark. These include some sweetened quasi-Brahmsian moments in the slow movement. The finale opens flirtily with a flittery and energetically rhythmic dance.

Wölfl’s piano music and string quartets have been reviewed here. The reviewers’ conclusions: the former was liked but the quartets were not.

The fulsome notes are by Bert Hegels. The technology, which delivers a wholesomely clear and potent sound, is by Holger Urbach.

Rob Barnett



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