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Music by Johann & Carl Stamitz
     

Music by Johann & Carl Stamitz

by Michael Strauss
 
In the old days the music of the so-called Mannheim School, which flourished at the court of the Electoral Palatinate in Mannheim (the giant castle that holds its own against the bombed-out city's new modern center is proof of the court's magnficence), was thought of as the primary predecessor to the Viennese Classicism of Haydn and

Overview

In the old days the music of the so-called Mannheim School, which flourished at the court of the Electoral Palatinate in Mannheim (the giant castle that holds its own against the bombed-out city's new modern center is proof of the court's magnficence), was thought of as the primary predecessor to the Viennese Classicism of Haydn and Mozart. Awareness of the importance of Italian developments changed that, almost to the point where Mannheim has been considered something of a footnote. But the Mannheim orchestra, which Mozart as a young man and admired, was known all over Europe, and traces of the styles of the father-and-son composers recorded here, Johann and Carl Stamitz, are all over Mozart's music. It's nice to have this enthusiastic recording by a group of young Chicago players (who apparently use modern instruments despite a name, Camerata Chicago, that vaguely suggests a historical orientation). The fingerprint of the Mannheim School, the ascending "Mannheim rocket" figure, is not much on display in these works, but they offer a fresh spirit and a good time as long as not too much is asked of them. The two symphonies by Johann Stamitz are short works, written perhaps in the 1740s (no date is given), collections of little melodies held together by sharp harmonic transitions, without a trace of the Baroque. More extensive are the two concertos by Carl Stamitz, which probably date from the 1780s and may well have been influenced by Mozart's vast expansion of the concerto form. The soloists, violinist Michael Strauss and violist Desirée Ruhstrat, keep things firmly under control. The scope of the opening movement of the "Concerto for viola and orchestra, Op. 1," is especially impressive, and the "Sinfonia concertante for viola, violin, and orchestra" adds to our knowledge of this underexposed genre. The cover photograph, which would appear not to be of Mannheim, is curious. A major disincentive for the buyer is the engineering, hampered by the boxy sound of a music-school concert hall that sounds like a high school gynmasium, but lovers of the early Classical period will want to sample these seldom-recorded works.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/27/2007
Label:
Centaur
UPC:
0044747286020
catalogNumber:
2860
Rank:
298471

Tracks

  1. Symphony in A major ("Mannheim No. 2")
  2. Symphony in G major ("Mannheim No. 1") (probably by Antoine Mahaut)
  3. Concerto for viola & orchestra in D, Op 1/1
  4. Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola & orchestra in D

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