This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
ZAPPA Symphony in B?, “Cello Symphony1”; Symphony in D. GRAAF Symphony in D. SCHWINDL Symphony in D. MOZART Symphony No. 5 in B?, K 22,Read more “The Hague”; Conservati fedele, K 232. STAMITZ Symphony in C, Op. 24/1 • Simon Murphy, cond.; 1Caroline Kang (vc); 2Elizabeth Dobbin (sop); New Dutch Academy O • PENTATONE PTC 5186 365 (68:12)
Intentionally or not, this disc must surely contain the most misleading cover art of any booklet I’ve seen in a while. The phrase “Zappa Symphonies” screams in an oversized font on the cover, a message that could no doubt lead fans of art rock/classical hybrids (I’m somewhere in the middle on this topic) to paroxysms of giddy anticipation. Closer inspection reveals the Zappa in question to be one Francesco Zappa. OK—since it’s a European label, could it be a clumsy translation of “Frank”? Finally we read the dates of the composer on the back of the disc: 1763–86. I suppose rock stars aren’t the only musicians with a predilection for brief life spans.
If this Classical-era Zappa were the only composer on the disc, the tease might be forgivable, but there are five composers represented, and Zappa is probably at the bottom of the list in terms of contemporary recognition. There is in fact a tight organizational principal at work here, despite the almost comic obfuscation. These are symphonies that represent the musical life of the 18th-century Court of Orange in The Hague, performed on period instruments by the New Dutch Academy Orchestra, conducted by Simon Murphy. As it happens, much of the music is quite strong, and the performances are universally energetic, brisk, and infectious.
The opener is an attractive three-movement work by Christian Ernst Graaf (spelled with only one “a” before his move to the Netherlands), a name I am only vaguely familiar with. A quick survey of the Fanfare Archive turned up no previous reviews of his work, a surprise given the high quality of this music. The same neglect has befallen the work of Friedrich Schwindl, represented by a fine symphony notable for its debt to the Mannheim school, with vigorous repetitive “rocket” figures. Carl Stamitz’s zesty Symphony in C is an even clearer representative of this approachable style.
Mozart makes an appearance with (what else?) his Symphony No. 5 (“The Hague”), composed while on tour in the Dutch city at the age of nine. While no masterpiece, it is utterly charming, bearing the influence of J. C. Bach from whom he borrowed one of the tunes. His aria Conservati fedele was penned during the same trip, and seems to have similar influences. Elizabeth Dobbin’s clear, agile soprano is a perfect match for the simple, youthful melodies.
Alas, the hyped Zappa pieces are the weakest of the disc, worth a listen only because of the limpid playing of cellist Caroline Kang and lively, pristine performances of this fine period orchestra under the superb leadership of Simon Murphy. But if you have even just a passing interest in music of this era, this recording is well worth a listen.
Symphony in D majorby Francesco Zappa Conductor:
New Dutch Academy
Conservati fedele, K 23by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Performer:
Elizabeth Dobbin (Soprano)
New Dutch Academy
Period: Classical Written: 1765; Netherlands (Holland
I echo my fellow reviewerJune 21, 2016By Anthony G. (SANTA FE, NM)See All My Reviews"I echo my fellow reviewer. This music is sumptuous and superbly performed. If the listener passes up purchasing this cd he/she has deprived himself of an ineffable music experience. One of the top ten cds I have bought this summer. "Try it. You'll like it.""Report Abuse
Look beyond the title!June 30, 2013By Martin W. (March, Cambridgeshire)See All My Reviews"There has been some criticism of the lurid colour of this CD case, but to my mind the actual title is the greater problem; it would be better described as a tribute to music-making in the Hague in the Mozart era, and as such it is an interesting overview. There are two brief symphonies by the short-lived Francesco Zappa (1763-88) one of which, Zappa being a noted cellist, contains a cello solo in the slow movement, rather similar to that in Haydn Symphony No.13 (though less inspired.) Sandwiched either side are two scurrying faster movements. Also included are two other unfamiliar symphonic offerings with Hague-based connections, namely by Christian Graaf, and Friedrich Schwindl, the latter being the composer I actually found to be the most creative of the group. The three-movement form (Allegro-Andante-Presto) is used throughout. To complete the album are three more familiar offerings, a Symphony by Carl Stsmitz, and Mozart's "Hague" Symphony (No.5 in Bb) and a soprano aria (K.23, "Conservati Fedele") composed by the youngster in the Hague. The performances on period instruments, by the New Dutch Academy with Simon Murphy, are enthusiastic and highly competent, and as long as you don't expect a major album of Zappa, this is much to be recommended."Report Abuse
More Neglected ComposersNovember 11, 2012By G. Duncan (Boston, MA)See All My Reviews"On this CD are 5 composers, with Francesco Zappa represented with but two pieces or about 20 minutes of this 68 + minute CD. While I certainly am not about to get confused seeing the ZAPPA name in Classical music with the Rock Zappa!, and seriously doubt any classical buyer would, I will say calling this CD ZAPPA SYMPHONIES is misleading in that only two are presented! Now it may be that is all that has been found thus far, when Mr. Murphy and the New Dutch Academy went to record this CD but a better title may be CROWNING GLORY THE MUSICAL HERITAGE OF THE NETHERLANDS, then the world premiere recordings of all 5 composers of the 7 pieces presented would be more accurate. And I must say the recording is excellent as per usual with this label, PentaTone. If you like 18th. Century Music, you should get a copy of this recording as it is very enjoyable. The very youthful Mozart pieces are delightful, the single pieces of Christian Ernst Graaf and Friedrich Schwindl are real finds, as apparently the two Zappa pieces and one would hope more could be found and recorded by all three composers. The final composer,Carl Stamitz: He has been recorded and CD's containing his music can be found and bought, so apparently his compositions have been better known and perhaps more have survived the centuries, although apparently this piece is a world premier as well. In any case the 18th. Century of the Court of Orange is very well represented here. They certainly enjoyed some remarkably beautiful music!"Report Abuse