WESTERHOFF Clarinet Concerto. Clarinet and Bassoon Concerto. Symphony in E? • Hermann Bäumer, cond; Sebastian Manz (cl); Albrecht Holder (bn); Osnabrück SO • CPO 777598-2 (63:14)
Little is known about, etc. You know the drill. From even as late as the 18th century, we have many composers about whom hardly anything is known, but whose works still exist. (And at least their situation is better today than those composers who have left barely a name, and nothing else.) Christian Westerhoff (1763–1806) wasRead more a violinist and double bass player at the Burgsteinfurt Court Chapel in what is today North Rhine-Westphalia. He left in 1790 on a concert tour, then secured a position as Konzertmeister at the Bückeburg court—the same post held two administrations back by the underrated Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach. Contemporary reviews of Westerhoff’s works speak glowingly of their idiomatic instrumental writing and their pleasing style. (There is also a tantalizing reference in Gerber’s Neues Lexicon to a Musik zu Ehren der Kuhpocken Einimpfung, or “Music to Commemorate the Smallpox Vaccination,” from 1801, that if it still exists deserves a recording alongside Marais’s better-known Le Tableau de l’opération de la taille, or “Visualization of a Gall Bladder Operation.”)
Both Burgsteinfurt and Bückeburg were prosperous, their rulers strongly interested in musical culture and supporting it heavily. Westerhoff led and played in performances of the latest scores he quickly acquired, which explains the cosmopolitan nature of these works. There’s a level of structural organization on the order of Rosetti’s concertos, with the opening orchestral statement in the Clarinet Concerto’s initial Allegro movement alone lasting 1: 45. His developments are lengthy, if given to little more of musical interest than the display of tone, phrasing, and agility by his soloists. Stylistically, he builds upon the galant, particularly in the warmth of its melting bel canto, and the adagio movements to both concertos provide excellent examples of this. The finales of these two works employ Germanic folk-like themes to good effect. They’re believed to date from the late 1780s, while the expansive symphony of 1796 displays an obvious appreciation of Haydn’s later works—including a couple of marvelously effective harmonic sideslips in the opening movement’s excellent development section. Westerhoff’s themes are memorable, and there’s a density and ever-changing weight to the textures that suggests possible familiarity with Mozart, especially in the all-too-short theme and variations of the second movement.
Some slight raggedness from the strings aside, the Osnabrück musicians offer a solid, disciplined sound with nice blend between the sections. Hermann Bäumer was a good choice to lead this music, focusing on clarity without sacrificing color, beauty and flexibility of phrasing, or dramatic effect. Sebastian Manz and Albrecht Holder are excellent in all respects, while their interplay in the mock-dramatic side passages of the Double Concerto’s rondo finale is exceptionally appealing. In short, if you come as I did to sample the galant concertos, you’ll stay to delight in Westerhoff’s fine symphony.
Symphony in E flat majorby Christian Westerhoff Performer:
Sebastian Manz (Clarinet)
Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra
Clarinet Concerto in B flat major, Op. 5: I. Allegro
Clarinet Concerto in B flat major, Op. 5: II. Adagio
Clarinet Concerto in B flat major, Op. 5: III. Allegretto
Simphonie concertante in B flat major: I. Allegro
Simphonie concertante in B flat major: II. Adagio
Simphonie concertante in B flat major: III. Allegretto
Symphony in E flat major: I. Adagio - Poco presto
Symphony in E flat major: II. Andante moto
Symphony in E flat major: III. Allegretto
Symphony in E flat major: IV. Presto
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Simply delightful music. January 14, 2014By V. Maley Jr (Washington, DC)See All My Reviews"The title says it all. This is another gem mined from dusty archives for CPO's ongoing efforts to turn the spotlight on works of largely forgotten composers. As a childhood clarinet player, I am particularly pleased to hear this music."Report Abuse
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