No.53 in D (Trumpet Symphony)
No.56 in D minor
No.29 in G minor (with fugue)
No.52 in D
No.43 in F minor
London Mozart Players
Recorded 11 & 12 April 2006 in St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London
Reviewed by: Antony Hodgson
Reviewed: April 2007
CD No: CHANDOS CHAN 10386
Duration: 62 minutes
Matthias Bamert continues to present programmes of superb 18th-century compositions often in premiere recordings, played with great style and based on very reliable musicological principles. He is able to prove that such works can be realised using modern instruments and still be immaculately performed. Above all he is to be complimented for showing that there are excellent symphonic composers of that period whose names are neither (Joseph) Haydn nor (Wolfgang Amadeus) Mozart – mind you, I wouldn’t want him to ignore Michael Haydn or Leopold Mozart.
Franz Xaver Richter (1709-1789) was one of the Mannheim composers but from his style it is by no means obvious that he was 8 years older than Jan Stamitz and 36 years older than that composer’s famous son Karl with whose style Richter sometimes shows similarities. Two of the symphonies presented here, numbers 52 and 53, feature dramatic use of trumpets and drums. The catalogue on which the numbering of Richter’s symphonies is based is a little confusing because it gives no idea of the true chronology of the works. Another slight confusion arises from the recordings being presented in the order 53 – 56 – 29 – 52 – 43 whereas the booklet note is written in the order 52 – 53 – 43 – 56 – 29 presumably so that the two trumpet symphonies can be compared but it is easy to overlook this when reading.
In the concert hall, Bamert very properly has his timpanist produce a clear, dry ‘18th-century’ sound – the recording certainly balances these instruments correctly but that element of sharp focus so typical of these instruments in performances by the London Mozart Players is not always evident on this CD. This said, the accounts are exciting and stylish from beginning to end. The generous ration of repeats makes structural sense in every work and indeed clear-cut structure is always an admirable feature of Richter’s compositions.
The brilliance of the fully scored D major works is in strong contrast to their lyrical companions, which create tension in a different way. The most notable is the dark No.29 in G minor, which is given the subtitle ‘with fugue’. This feature occurs in the first movement and has great dramatic impact. Symphonies 56 and 43 are also full of minor-key drama and, in this, the music of Kraus is anticipated.
The sound is colourful, warm and natural. The harpsichord is recorded in the modern fashion: that is to say you can hear it if you listen very hard. A release of notable music.