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Franz Xaver Richter: Grandes Symphonies, Set 2 No 7-12 / Aapo Hakkinen, Helsinki Baroque Orchestra


Release Date: 06/30/2009 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570597   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz Xaver Richter
Conductor:  Aapo Häkkinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Franz Xaver Richter actually wrote these symphonies before joining the celebrated group of composers and performers in the Mannheim court orchestra, but they are no less interesting for that. Two of these works (Nos. 10 and 12) follow the "church sonata" format in opening with a slow movement (out of four in total; all of the other symphonies have three). The quick second movement of No. 10 is a fugue, and a very good one, always an indication of the "learned" style. But even the theoretically lighter works are full of melodic and harmonic interest. The minor-key slow movements of Nos. 7 and 8, for example, really are gripping, and in the quick movements Richter strikingly anticipates Classical procedures by writing Read more development sections that really do develop, exhibiting great tonal tension with no loss of coherence.

In short, these works are well worth getting to know, and happily the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra under Aapo Häkkinen plays them stylishly and with plenty of expressive force. The harpsichord continuo sounds a touch dry, but it happily doesn't overwhelm the larger string ensemble as so often happens in music of this period, turning the works into de facto keyboard concertos. Volume 1 in this set of 12 "Grandes Symphonies" already has been released, and it's equally fine, so if you're interested in the history of the classical symphony, and in that fascinating period in which the late Baroque mingled with the nascent style of Gluck (in "reform" mode), Haydn, and Mozart, then you will certainly want to hear this expressively pungent and attractive music.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

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F. X. RICHTER Grandes Symphonies: Nos. 7–12 Aapo Häkkinen, cond; Helsinki Baroque O (period instruments) NAXOS 8.570597 (79:06)


Two years ago, I reviewed the first release in this set of works published in 1744 by Franz Xaver Richter (1709–1789) as Grandes Symphonies 1–6. Now, here’s the second set, and everything is pretty much as before. To recap briefly: we know very little about the composer. He was of Bohemian or Moravian descent, may have studied in Vienna, and may have been a pupil of Fux—or not. He was assistant Kappelmeister in Kempten, Allgäu, in 1740, but showed up in 1747 among those musicians attending Mannheim’s artistic Elector Palatine Carl Theodor. His symphonies date from around 1740; however, several years before he had at his disposal the virtuosic, disciplined orchestra Mannheim furnished at that time.


The liner notes are a repeat of those included in the earlier set, in turn closely repeating the article on Richter in New Grove —right down to the puzzling statement that his early works exhibit a strong Austrian Baroque flavor. These symphonies, among his earliest works known to us, are much closer to the Italian Baroque model, derived from opera overtures. Four out of six of the symphonies in the present set (and five out of six in the previous one) are in three movements, while all show an influence of Vivaldi in their extensive use of harmonic sequencing. Thematically, Richter is sometimes closer to the galant , as the opening of the Sinfonia IX in A Major reveals—though the tonic cadence to the movement’s only theme turns out to be false, suddenly veering into two-part counterpoint before returning to previous material. It is as though a Baroque Neapolitan were to have found himself years later with the resources of Mannheim’s great orchestra at his disposal: for there are many novelties of the time (jagged thematic leaps, bold harmonic progressions, sighs, lengthy homophonic passages) deployed within slow movements redolent of Italianate lyricism, and fast movements notable for their active bass and contrapuntal expertise.


Aapo Häkkinen leads sparkling performances from the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, whose vibratoless tone is “plushed up” through a recording in Espoo’s reverberant Sello Concert Hall. Tempos are sensibly chosen, and balance good between the sectional divisions. There’s a genuine sense of theater about some of this, such as the brief Andante to the Sinfonia VII in C Major, all the more appropriate in that Richter, at that point in his life, was renowned as an operatic bass in the Italianate repertoire so beloved by Carl Theodor.


In short, if you enjoyed the previous release in this series (Naxos 8.557818, reviewed in Fanfare 31:8), you’ll certainly want to buy its continuation as well. If you haven’t tried either, but like music that stands on the cusp between the Baroque and early Classical periods, drawing in unpredictable fashion from both, look no further.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 7 in C major by Franz Xaver Richter
Conductor:  Aapo Häkkinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1744; Germany 
2. Symphony no 8 in B flat major by Franz Xaver Richter
Conductor:  Aapo Häkkinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1744; Germany 
3. Symphony no 9 in A major by Franz Xaver Richter
Conductor:  Aapo Häkkinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1744; Germany 
4. Symphony no 10 in E minor by Franz Xaver Richter
Conductor:  Aapo Häkkinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1744; Germany 
5. Symphony no 11 in G minor by Franz Xaver Richter
Conductor:  Aapo Häkkinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1744; Germany 
6. Symphony no 12 in C major by Franz Xaver Richter
Conductor:  Aapo Häkkinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1744; Germany 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 4 in C major: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 4 in C major: II. Andante
Symphony No. 4 in C major: III. Allegro
Symphony No. 59 in B flat major: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 59 in B flat major: II. Largo
Symphony No. 59 in B flat major: III. Presto
Symphony No. 69 in A major: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 69 in A major: II. Andante
Symphony No. 69 in A major: III. Allegro
Symphony No. 82 in E minor: I. Adagio
Symphony No. 82 in E minor: II. Fuga non troppo presto
Symphony No. 82 in E minor: III. Andante
Symphony No. 82 in E minor: IV. Tempo di Minuetto
Symphony No. 27 in G minor: I. Spiritoso
Symphony No. 27 in G minor: II. Andante
Symphony No. 27 in G minor: III. Presto
Symphony No. 5 in C major: I. Andante -
Symphony No. 5 in C major: I. Allegro non molto
Symphony No. 5 in C major: II. Andante
Symphony No. 5 in C major: III. Tempo di Minuetto

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