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Sussmayr: Der Spiegel Von Arkadian / Consortium Classicum

Release Date: 05/23/2006 
Label:  Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm) Gold Catalog #: 3011380   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz Xaver Süssmayer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consortium Classicum
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

SÜSSMAYR Der Spiegel von Arkadien ? Consortium Classicum ? MDG 301 1380 (62:26)

Vienna was not only the seat of imperial power in the 18th century but it was also the 18th-century musical equivalent of modern day London or New York. Music was as important a part of the everyday existence of the Viennese as was politics or religion. Music was everywhere and the Viennese public was ripe for seduction by the latest trends of the musical world, including that of wind music, which had its roots in Bohemia and Read more Moravia.

In the early 1780s, Joseph II, Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, succumbed to the fashion and founded the Kaiserliche Harmonie . The Emperor?s wind band became a potent artistic force, its influence extending far beyond the city. The octet, composed of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns, included the Stadlers?the gifted clarinetists and friends of Mozart?and oboist, arranger, and composer Joseph Triebensee. But Harmoniemusik was to be found elsewhere in Vienna as well. Writing from Vienna, no less a figure than Dr. Charles Burney noted in his Musical Tours in Europe , ?There was music every day during dinner, and in the evening at the inn where I lodged, which was the Golden Ox . . . a band of wind instruments . . . constantly attended the ordinary. This consisted of French horns, clarinets, hautboys [ sic ], and bassoons.?

As the demand for this sort of music increased in all social strata, so did the need for more music. If a new opera proved popular, it was soon set for winds, either by the composer or another, if less gifted hand. There were even workshops dedicated to the job of writing music for Harmonie . Many of the best wind-players in Vienna were known to moonlight, not for fun, but out of social necessity. In one of his letters, Mozart refers to undressing for bed when suddenly beneath his window he hears the first chords of his Serenade in E?, K 375, performed by a sextet of clarinets, horns, and bassoons. In another missive, he admits that he must quickly turn his attention to the preparation of a Harmonie version of his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail before someone beats him out of the gate and reaps the profits. So the purpose of Harmonie was twofold: it filled a social purpose, but it also allowed a composer access to a venue other than the opera house for his efforts. The reams of Harmoniemusik in what were the libraries of the nobility in the Austro-Hungarian Empire are mute testimony to the popularity of the genre.

Given these circumstances, it should come as no surprise that in the wake of its premiere, Der Spiegel von Arkadien (?The Mirror of Arcadia?), a popular comic opera of Franz Xaver Süssmayr (1766?1803), would attract the attention of arrangers. Contemporary adaptations included not only those for Harmonie , but also an abundance of versions for string quartet, fortepiano, and a variety of chamber ensembles.

While for better or worse, Süssmayr?s completion of Mozart?s Requiem may be his legacy, Süssmayr also left behind a significant theatrical ?uvre as well as concertos for clarinet, piano, horn, and chamber music. Der Spiegel von Arkadien was by far Süssmayr?s most popular stage work, even though the libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder (who provided Mozart with the libretto for Die Zauberflöte ) was termed insipid by contemporary critics.

Süssmayr lacked the talent and certainly the genius that would have allowed him to emerge as an heir apparent from Mozart?s collection of students, so we are forced to admire him?if we admire him at all?on the basis of music by not only Mozart, but also Cimarosa and Salieri. In short, Süssmayr?s flame only flickered in the shadows cast by the greats of Classicism.

This arrangement of Der Spiegel von Arkadien was prepared by Johann Nepomuk Wendt (who, like Triebensee, was a member of the Kaiserliche Harmonie ) and consists of the most popular selections from Süssmayr?s opera, though not compiled in numerical order. Wendt sought to produce an arrangement that would be as successful as Tafelmusik as the opera was on stage. It?s easy to see why this work was so popular: the music is light in weight and floats and flows effortlessly. Admittedly, there is not as much as a single melody that lingers in one?s mind past the end of the reverberation, but the music is attractive and pleasant, and doubtless fulfilled its purpose as the nobility gorged itself on a variety of rich comestibles.

I?ve never been faint in my praise for the efforts of Dieter Klöcker and his colleagues in Consortium Classicum, for Klöcker seems to be consistently strong when it comes to selecting the repertoire for his ensemble, and his colleagues respond appropriately to his unfailing leadership. Consortium Classicum has been an influential force on the European musical scene for four decades, but the membership has changed significantly as some of the performers retired or died. Aside from Klöcker, the only founding member still active appears to be oboist Gernot Schmalfuss. However, Klöcker has succeeded quite well in overseeing the passing of the torch to this new generation of performers and there is no loss of the exceptional musicianship that has been Consorium Classicum?s hallmark over the years.

Süssmayr?s attractive music dances its way into your ears by way of these energetic and ebullient readings. If you?re expecting Mozart, your hopes will surely be dashed, but if you?re in search of something light and appropriate for Tafelmusik , for relaxation, or to accompany your bagel and coffee while you enjoy your Sunday morning with the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times , this is it!

FANFARE: Michael Carter
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Works on This Recording

Der Spiegel von Arkadian by Franz Xaver Süssmayer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consortium Classicum
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794; Vienna, Austria 

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