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Sigismund Von Neukomm: Three Orchestral Fantasies; Sinfonie Heroique / Willens, Die Kolner Akademie

Neukomm / Die Kolner Akademie / Willens
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777573   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sigismund R. von Neukomm
Conductor:  Michael Alexander Willens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Die Kölner Akademie
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Sigismund Neukomm (b. 1778) is best known today as a footnote in Haydn biographies, as one of the composer’s students and associates in his last years. But he lived until 1858, traveling all over Europe, from France, to Russia, to London, and even residing for a number of years in Brazil. It was in Rio de Janeiro in 1817 that he composed his Grande Sinfonie heroïque. The music is faux Haydn: just about about the only thing “heroïque” about it is the drumroll at the start. Check out the tune that begins the finale; it’s as if Beethoven had never existed.

The remaining works on the program represent an interesting illustration of musical aesthetics in the early 1800s. They represent Neukomm’s response to the problem
Read more of writing orchestral music that does not sound like Haydn and that employs “free” forms. Indeed, the “Dramatic Fantasia on some passages of Milton’s Paradise Lost,” composed in 1833 for the London Philharmonic Society, might be deemed a symphonic poem, though its general pleasantness reveals a composer lacking true fire in his belly. Still, the music is enjoyable, and the two earlier fantasies composed in 1806-8 reveal a composer clearly trying to find an individual identity while working in Haydn’s (still living) shadow.

The performances are very successful. I have had some pretty harsh things to say about Die Kölner Academy and Michael Willens (and he has replied in kind), particularly on account of their lousy Mozart piano concerto recordings on BIS. This is probably their most successful disc to date. Yes, the “period” string playing still lacks timbral allure, but the winds play characterfully, especially in the Milton fantasia, and the passages for full orchestra sound lively and bold. The fact that the music has no competition on disc also helps, as does the excellent engineering. Interesting stuff, this.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Grande Sinfonie Heroďque, Op. 19 by Sigismund R. von Neukomm
Conductor:  Michael Alexander Willens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Die Kölner Akademie
Period: Classical 
Written: Austria 
2. Fantaisie a grand Orchestre, Op. 9 by Sigismund R. von Neukomm
Conductor:  Michael Alexander Willens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Die Kölner Akademie
Period: Classical 
Written: Austria 
3. Grand Dramatic Fantasia by Sigismund R. von Neukomm
Conductor:  Michael Alexander Willens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Die Kölner Akademie
Period: Classical 
Written: Austria 
4. Dramatic Fantasia on some passages of Milton’s Paradise Lost by Sigismund R. von Neukomm
Conductor:  Michael Alexander Willens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Die Kölner Akademie
Period: Classical 
Written: Austria 

Sound Samples

Fantasie a grand orchestra, Op. 9
Dramatic Fantasia on Some Passages of Milton's Paradise Lost
Fantaisie a grand orchestre
Grande Sinfonie Heroique, Op. 19: I. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con spirito
Grande Sinfonie Heroique, Op. 19: II. Menuetto: Allegro molto - Trio
Grande Sinfonie Heroique, Op. 19: III. Andante con poco di moto
Grande Sinfonie Heroique, Op. 19: IV. Allegro molto

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