Stamitz Viola d’amore Concertos

0 of 5 stars

Concerto No.1 in D for viola d’amore and orchestra
Concerto No.2 in D for viola d’amore and orchestra
Sonata in E flat for viola d’amore and accompanying instruments

Gunter Teuffel (viola d’amore)

Heidelberger Sinfoniker
Thomas Fey

Recorded in December 2002 and January 2003

Reviewed by: Chris Caspell

Reviewed: July 2004
Duration: 51 minutes

With proclamations of music piracy the cause of record companies cutting back on their less sure-fire successful projects, it is refreshing to see smaller companies, such as Profil, recording music that is not often heard, let alone recorded.

There is only one other recording of the Carl Philipp Stamitz’s viola d’amore concertos, which was recorded in 1998, so the setting should be perfect for a new version by a youthful orchestra.

Carl Philipp Stamitz (1756-1801) came from a musical family. His father, Johann, is generally agreed to be the founder if the symphony, even if not the father – Joseph Haydn has that accolade. Carl Stamitz was a virtuoso of the violin, viola and viola d’amore and toured widely during the 1770s and 1780s. The opening of the Concerto No.1 is marked Allegro and begs for a light and swift touch; although here we seem to have regressed back to 1960s’ style with plodding tempi and over-done strings. The style of performance is somewhat surprising as Thomas Fey attended performance-practice classes held by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. I am not being evangelical for this orchestra plays beautifully within the confines of a modern chamber orchestra, but I do feel that this music requires more.

The soloist, Gunter Teuffel, is a different matter; a student of Sándor V-égh and William Primrose, Teuffel’s style bears an uncanny similarity to the latter. The richness of the sympathetically vibrating strings is a character that really sets the viola d’amore apart from the ‘standard’ viola. Both were in existence concurrently and Mozart even wrote a treatise on the instrument. D’amore signals a richness and beauty that is associated with love and is symbolic of the plaintive sounds of other instruments with the same suffix.

On this recording the sound of the instrument is resonant and beautiful but there is nothing startling to suggest that a viola d’amore is actually being played; it could be ‘modern’ concert viola. I also found that the orchestra was set back a little too far – although perhaps this is to compensate for the quieter sound of the solo instrument.

This CD is pleasant to listen to. Maybe though the music is a little too esoteric for the casual listener, which is a pity for this orchestra has something of a following, and it’s an ensemble I would like to hear again, perhaps playing twentieth-century orchestral music; Hindemith and Poulenc, say. This is where I think this group’s strengths lie, although it’s been good to hear it in this enjoyably lyrical music of Stamitz.

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