Virtuoso Timpani Concertos

0 of 5 stars

Works featuring multiple timpani by Druschetzky, J C C Fischer, Graupner, Molter, and André & Jacques Philidor

Dresden Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
Alexander Peter (timpani)

Recorded between 8-10 September 2003 in Lutherkirche, Radebeul, Germany

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: August 2005
CD No: NAXOS 8.557610
Duration: 80 minutes

The concerto for six timpani by Georg Druschetzky (1745-1819), written in the late-1790s, opens like many a classical work of no great pretence: bright and breezy, and perky – and continues in this manner to its stately dance-like conclusion, and is a fine indicator of the music to follow. The timpanist adds an obbligato drum element, crisply played here with just enough demonstration when needed. Druschetzky, a military musician, also closes the CD – with his four-movement Partita, music of relaxed charm, the timpani once more complementing the melodic material.

The March by the Philidor brothers is a short call to attention; it seems that this duet is played ‘as one’ by Alexander Peter without technological trickery. Johann Carl Christian Fischer’s symphony attracts eight timpani; it’s a grand piece that was once attributed to Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727-89).

Perhaps the most inventive music comes in Sinfonia No.99 (sic) by Johann Melchior Molter (1697-1765), like Haydn a court composer, and also a prodigious creator in terms of output (there are 170 sinfonias!). If not in Haydn’s league, this particular work of Molter’s is agreeable and colourful. So too Johann Christopher Graupner’s six-movement Sinfonia.

With the proviso that nearly 80 minutes of timpani-dominated music gets rather samey (Naxos’s printed ‘total time’ should read 79’32”), and there are no masterpieces here – rather the works are pleasing and entertaining and include woodwinds and brass as well as the ‘usual’ strings – then there is much to enjoy. Alexander Peter plays with virtuosity and sensitivity, and his 18th-century, goat-skin timpani make an attractive sound and splendid racket! The chamber orchestra formed from members of the Dresden Philharmonic play with the sort of style one would expect (the ‘open’ string heard just as track 7 begins should have been edited out, though).

To complete this enjoyable, well-recorded release is a full-length, erudite and informative booklet note by Harrison Powley, a musicologist and percussionist, and who has edited the music played here.

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