dilluns, 14 de juny de 2021

HERTEL, Johann Wilhelm (1727-1789) - Sinfonia G-Dur (c.1765)

Bernardo Bellotto (1722-1780) - Autoportret w stroju prokuratora weneckiego

Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727-1789) - Sinfonia G-Dur (c.1765)
Performers: Neubrandenburger Philarmonie


German violinist, keyboard player and composer, son of Johann Christian Hertel (1697-1754). Destined at first to be a lawyer or theologian, he nevertheless received an early musical education from Bach’s pupil J.H. Heil (1706-64) and by the age of 12 he accompanied his father as harpsichordist on concert tours. In 1742-3 he was a violin pupil of Carl Höckh, the Konzertmeister in Zerbst, and in 1744 he was violinist and harpsichordist at the Strelitz court, where his father was also employed. He had contacts with leading Berlin musicians such as Franz Benda, C.H. and J.G. Graun, and C.P.E. Bach; Franz Benda taught him the violin and C.H. Graun encouraged him to compose. After the Strelitz Hofkapelle was dissolved (1752) he became court composer in Schwerin in 1754, and worked at times as organist and church music director in Stralsund (1759-60). He was Princess Ulrike’s private secretary from 1764 and when the Hofkapelle moved to Ludwigslust in 1767 Duke Friedrich dismissed him from it so that he could remain in Schwerin. From 1770 he was the privy councillor in the service of Princess Ulrike but continued to compose, arrange concerts at the court and give music instruction. In his last years he gave up the violin and devoted himself to keyboard instruments. In his youth Hertel was considered one of the best violinists of Franz Benda’s school; he composed an impressive series of nine violin concertos as well as chamber music and trio sonatas. His 17 keyboard concertos, rich in invention and distinguished by fluent passage-work, are important north German achievements in this genre and rank beside C.P.E. Bach’s and A.C. Kunzen's. His sonatas and other works for keyboard, mostly still typical of harpsichord composition, are markedly inferior to the concertos. His 40 symphonies occupy a major place in his creative output. While his symphonic writing at first adopted the style of the Berlin school of Hasse and Graun, after 1760 it underwent a stylistic change unique in north Germany at the time by absorbing south German influences. Scored mainly for strings, horns, oboes and flutes, his symphonies are notable for their uncomplicated, straightforward technique and an almost aphoristic, rhythmically succinct and brilliant handling of thematic material. He also wrote incidental music for stage works, overtures and other instrumental concertos including ten oboe concertos.

diumenge, 13 de juny de 2021

NICOLAI, Carl Otto (1810-1849) - Te Deum (1832)

Wilhelm Schadow (1788-1862) - Portret Wienczyslawa i Konstantego Potockich jako dzieci

Carl Otto Nicolai (1810-1849) - Te Deum (1832)
Performers: Annika Ritlewski (sopran); Julia Giebel (sopran); Vanessa Barkowski (alt); Volker Arndt, (tenor); Ingo Witzke (tenor); Tobias Berndt (bass); Andreas Sieling (orgel); Sing-Akademie zu Berlin; Staats- und Domchor Berlin; Berliner Domkantorei; Kammersymphonie Berlin; Kai-Uwe Jirka (conductor)


German composer and conductor. He was the first child of the composer Carl Ernst Daniel Nicolai (1785-1854) and his wife Christiane Wilhelmine (née Lauber). Because of his mother’s physical and mental illness, the marriage was dissolved a few months after Nicolai’s birth. He grew up in the care of foster-parents until 1820, when his father took on responsibility for his education. Nicolai attended the highly regarded Friedrich-Gymnasium in Königsberg, but became so strained by his father’s attempts to make a prodigy of him that at the age of 15 he suffered a complete breakdown and had to leave. In mid-February 1826 he ran away and travelled via Memel to his mother in Breslau. She, however, was unable to look after him, and for the next two years he eked out a living as an itinerant pianist. After falling seriously ill in Stargard, he was helped by a local military court judge. The judge sent Nicolai to Berlin, where he was introduced to Carl Friedrich Zelter. Zelter resolved to support Nicolai and obtained for him a place at the Institut für die Ausbildung von Organisten und Musiklehrer, where he received tuition from Emil Fischer (singing), Ludwig Berger (piano) and Bernhard Klein (composition). The Prussian ambassador Karl von Bunsen eventually persuaded Nicolai to move to Italy. From January 1834 to March 1836 he held the post of organist at the embassy chapel in Rome. At the same time he studied counterpoint and a cappella style with Giuseppe Baini, acquired the nucleus of his considerable collection of early music and took a lively interest in the development of contemporary Italian music. When his period of employment came to an end he had already been nominated honorary music director of the Prussian court, but he stayed on in Italy as a freelance composer for more than a year, searching in vain for a commission to write an opera. Apart from composing a few occasional works, the only success of these years was his appointment to the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna as maestro compositore onorario. 

After many disappointments he was eventually elected assistant Kapellmeister at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna in 1837. There he gained experience in conducting opera and orchestral works and he composed his first opera, 'Rosmonda d’Inghilterra' which provided him with his first success as a composer in Vienna and Italy. Then he attempted to settle in northern Italy as a freelance composer but some personal disagreements and the failure of his engagement to the singer Erminia Frezzolini caused Nicolai to leave the country in spring 1841, and once again he was drawn to Vienna. After his experiences in Italy, Nicolai soon changed his artistic ideals. In late summer 1841 he was appointed principal conductor of the Hofoper at the Kärntnertor, and was able to concentrate on the operas of Mozart and Beethoven, which he particularly admired. Required by contract to compose German operas, he provided his first original German opera, 'Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor'. In summer 1844 Nicolai undertook a long journey via Prague, Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin to Königsberg, where he performed the Kirchliche Fest-Ouvertüre which he had dedicated to his native town, as part of the festival to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the university. King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia was so impressed that he tried to tempt him to Berlin; Nicolai, however, did not at first respond to the offer. October 1847 saw him installed as Kapellmeister at the Königliches Opernhaus in Berlin and, as Mendelssohn’s successor, artistic director of the cathedral choir. Wishing to reform Prussian church services, he immediately began to compose a series of large-scale religious works. Soon afterwards Nicolai joined the Tonkünstlerverband, a society concerned with the reorganization of Prussian musical life; Die lustigen Weiber eventually received its première, without huge success, on 9 March 1849. Two months later, on 11 May, Nicolai died. On the same day he was elected a member of the Akademie der Künste, but too late to receive the news.

divendres, 11 de juny de 2021

CIRRI, Giovanni Battista (1724-1808) - Concerto for the Violoncello obligato

Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) - Sappho and Phaon

Giovanni Battista Cirri (1724-1808) - Concerto for the Violoncello obligato, No.4 Op.14 (1780) 
Performers: Balázs Máté (cello); Aura Musicale; László Paulik (conductor)


Italian cellist and composer. He studied with his brother Ignazio (1711-1787), organist at Forlì Cathedral from 1759, and composer of 12 organ sonatas, op.1 (London, 1770) and six sonatas for harpsichord with violin accompaniment, op.2 (London, c1772), and Giovanni Balzani, organist at the church of the Madonna del Fuoco. He was admitted to holy orders in 1739 but pursued a varied musical career. He was at first attached to the basilica of S Petronio, Bologna, as a composer and cellist, and may have studied with Padre Martini. From 1759 he was a member of the Accademia Filarmonica; in that year he met the Duke of York in Forlì. Subsequently he began to travel. He was in Paris during the early 1760s, where his first works were published and a ‘symphony’ performed at the Concert Spirituel on 5 April 1763. In 1764 he settled in London, where he was employed as a chamber musician to the Duke of York and director of music for the Duke of Gloucester. His first public appearance in London, on 16 May, was as accompanist to the violinist Marcella. He played solos at the eight-year-old Mozart’s first public concert in London (Spring Gardens, St James’s, 5 June 1764) as well as at his final appearance (13 May 1765). In addition to his duties for the nobility, Cirri was a popular soloist and accompanist. He participated in the Bach-Abel concerts, performed concertos during the intervals of operas and oratorios, and assisted in numerous benefit concerts. Most of his publications date from this phase of his career, the dedications testifying to his patronage by the English nobility and aristocracy. His address in about 1770, as given on his Deux quattuors, was in Greek Street, Soho. In 1780 he returned to Forlì to help his ailing brother at the cathedral, though he often played away from Forlì, and in 1782 was principal cello at the Teatro dei Fiorentini, Naples. In 1787 he succeeded his brother as maestro di cappella at Forlì Cathedral. Cirri's compositions demonstrate skilful harmonic and structural organization within intimate chamber forms, his obbligato cello parts of the 1760s and 70s reflecting the increasing attractiveness and acceptance of the instrument in a melodic role. While emphasizing tunefulness over technical display, his solo writing employs comfortable use of the upper registers, with scale, arpeggio and string-crossing figurations based on stationary, block hand positions.

dimecres, 9 de juny de 2021

BECK, Franz Ignaz (1734-1809) - Sinfonia a piu stromenti No.3 Op.3 (c.1762)

Follower of Jan Josef Horemans (1682-1759) - A scene with a company making music in a loggia

Franz Ignaz Beck (1734-1809) - Sinfonia a piu stromenti No.3 Op.3 (c.1762)
Performers: Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin


German composer, conductor, violinist and organist, active in France. He received violin lessons from his father Johann Aloys Beck (d 27 May 1742), an oboist and choir school Rektor at the Palatine court whose name is listed in the calendars of 1723 and 1734. He also learnt the double bass, among other instruments, and eventually came under the tutelage of Johann Stamitz, who arrived in Mannheim in 1741. The Palatine court, under Carl Theodor, recognized Beck’s talent and undertook responsibility for his education. Several sources maintain that Beck left the Palatinate at an early age to study composition with Galuppi in Venice. According to his pupil Blanchard (1845), however, Beck was the object of a jealous intrigue that involved him in a duel during which his opponent was supposedly killed (many years later Beck met his former opponent, who had only feigned death); Beck then presumably fled and travelled in Italy, giving concerts in principal cities. In any event, he spent several years in Venice before eloping to Naples with Anna Oniga, the daughter of his employer. After Beck’s stay in Italy (probably in the 1750s), he moved to Marseilles and became the leader of a theatre orchestra. It is not certain whether he arrived in France before about 1760, but in the late 1750s Parisian firms published more than 20 of Beck’s symphonies in fairly rapid succession. In 1757 a symphony by ‘Signor Beck’ was listed in two Concert Spirituel programmes. The title-pages of his op.1 (1758) and op.3 (1762) describe him as ‘chamber virtuoso to the Elector Palatine’ but add ‘and presently first violin of the Concert in Marseilles’. At least seven performances of his symphonies were given at Marseilles in 1760-61. Beck soon moved from Marseilles to Bordeaux, where he continued his interest in the theatre, subsequently becoming the conductor of the elegant Grand Théâtre. By 1764, when his first child was born, he was active as a teacher; his students included Pierre Gaveaux, Henri-Louis Blanchard, Jean-Baptiste Feyzeau and Bochsa. Beck was appointed organist at St Seurin, Bordeaux, on 24 October 1774 and his exceptional improvisatory skill drew considerable admiration from the congregation. Several sets of his keyboard pieces were printed in Paris and Dresden as well as Bordeaux. In 1783 he travelled to Paris for the first performance of his Stabat mater at Versailles and in 1789 the overture and incidental music to Pandore were performed in Paris at the Théâtre de Monsieur. He also directed concerts of the Société du Musée in Bordeaux. During the Revolution he composed patriotic music, including a Hymne à l’être suprême. In 1803 the new government honoured Beck by naming him correspondent of music composition for the Institut de France.

dilluns, 7 de juny de 2021

PARK, Maria Hester (1760-1813) - Sonata in F, No.1 Op.4 (1790)

Attributed to Joseph van Aken (c.1699-1749) - Winter

Maria Hester Park (1760-1813) - Sonata in F, No.1 Op.4 (1790)
Performers: Betty Ann Miller (piano)
Further info: Piano music


English composer and teacher. She played the harpischord and piano in public concerts and taught music to members of the nobility, including the Duchess of Devonshire and her daughters. In April 1787 she married the engraver and man of letters Thomas Park (1759-1834). On 22 October 1794 Haydn wrote to thank Park for sending him two charming prints, enclosing ‘for the Mistris Park a little Sonat’ with the promise of visiting her within a few days. Although she suffered from ill-health for many years, her family life was a happy one; her husband wrote several touching poems to her. Her surviving music, spanning a quarter of a century, is that of a very competent, professional composer. Her sonatas are varied and spirited, while the concerto for keyboard and strings reveals an individual voice, particularly in the final rondo. Earlier reference works confuse her with the singer and composer Maria F. Parke, to the extent of calling the singer Maria Hester Parke; the British Library Catalogue of Printed Music clearly distinguishes the two. Her keyboard sonatas opp.1 and 2 were published under her maiden name.