Notes and Editorial Reviews
This interesting disc introduces the two last symphonies of Johann Wilhelm Wilms (1772-1847), a noted Dutch composer who achieved international fame in his day. The two works here date from about 1820 and 1830 respectively. Symphony No. 6 requires the standard orchestra of double winds, horns, and trumpet, with strings and timpani, while No. 7 adds another two horns and three trombones. Each work lasts half an hour and offers the traditional stormy minor-to-triumphant-major tonal progress, though No. 7 is far more trenchant and powerful in this respect. Mozart and Haydn hang heavily over this music, more so than Beethoven, and if you enjoyed CPO's series of Ries symphonies, or perhaps Nils Gade, then you doubtless will like these as much,
if not more.
Wilms was adept at musical gestures: both works open impressively, have interesting scherzos, and offer outer movements where rhetorically grand statements alternate with somewhat bland contrasting material. Thus, the concluding Rondo of the Sixth Symphony has lots of charm but exhibits little in the way of drama (as we have come to expect from Beethoven, who, judging from this and other contemporary competition, really did blow everyone else away). The slow movements also have charm, if not much depth, but the music's vigor and contrast certainly will hold your attention, and I found getting to know this music a very enjoyable encounter.
The performances are very good, although I still do not believe that the vibratoless string sound cultivated here was considered normal or attractive at any period in musical history, and the brass tend to blast at climaxes (some will find this exciting; I would prefer a larger string section to balance out the volume). Also, Werner Ehrhardt's heavy tempo in Symphony No. 7's concluding Allegro does not strike me as terribly "con fuoco" as Wilms directs, but in all other respects these enthusiastic readings make a good case for a composer who certainly had some attractive ideas. I would be very interested in hearing some of his (reportedly numerous) concertos, and meanwhile can recommend this without hesitation as a genuine novelty.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
reviewing the original release of this title, DG 474508
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 6 in D minor by Johann Wilhelm Wilms
Symphony no 7 in C minor by Johann Wilhelm Wilms
Written: 1830s; Amsterdam, Netherlan
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