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Joseph WÖLFL (1773-1812)
Piano Concerto No 1, Op 20 (1799?) [30:01]
Piano Concerto No 5 Grand Military Concerto, Op 43 (1805) [23:36]
Piano Concerto No 6 The Cuckoo, Op 49 (1810) [17:25]
Andante The Calm from Piano Concerto No 4, Op 36 (1804?) [4:20]
Yorck Kronenberg (piano)
SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslauten/Johannes Moesius
rec. 20-22 November 2006, 2-4 May 2007, SWR Kaiserslauten
CPO 777 374-2 [76:06]

Joseph Wölfl was an Austrian pianist-composer who flourished modestly during his lifetime. His death marked the foundering of his music. Wölfl’s teachers numbered Leopold Mozart and Michael Haydn. Wiki tells us that Mozart wrote a testimonial for Wölfl’s composerly strengths.

The opening of the First Concerto is reminiscent of pages from The Magic Flute. The finale, on the other hand, has a Hungarian snap and crackle. This is a quality which is in keeping with the performances and recording. The Grand Military Concerto is more imposing. One can hear and almost feel the pennants snapping in a stiff breeze. This is something of a fantasy divertimento. The central movement inhabits much the same world as the middle movements of the mature Mozart piano concertos: 24, 25 and 27. The music is graciously patterned out of a lineage that would later produce Chopin's two piano concertos - chipper and poetic. Charm and calm are radiated by the Fourth (one four-minute movement only) and Sixth concertos

Wölfl was productive and there are said to be six piano concertos; some say seven. Research continues. Add to these a concerto for piano, violin and orchestra. His catalogue is profusely populated: perhaps twenty-one string quartets¸ seven operas written between 1795 and 1805¸ a clarinet concerto and lots of other chamber music and piano solos. He was, as a certain Chandos CD from Jean-Efflam Bavouzet reminds us, a contemporary of Beethoven. Having been bested in a competitive piano display with Beethoven he left the scene and moved to Paris; then to London where he died in Great Marylebone Street, London and was interred in St Marylebone churchyard. Quite apart from various piano solo CDs there is a sprinkling of Wölfl CDs, including an emerging piano cycle from Toccata and two discs of string quartets on Paladino and Hungaroton. CPO have announced an impending successor to the present disc and this will supply Piano Concertos 2 and 3 and a Concerto da Camera in E flat major. The pianist this time will be Nataša Veljković and Johannes Moesus will preside, this time over the Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim (CPO 555 149-2).

This is amiable stuff: chipper and poetic and suffused with charm and calm.

Rob Barnett

 

 



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