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Gaspard Fritz: 5 Sinfonias

Fritz / La Stagione Frankfurt / Schneider
Release Date: 03/26/2013 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777696   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gaspard Fritz
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Stagione Orchestra (Frankfurt)
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



FRITZ Sinfonias: in G, Op. 6/3; in A, Op. 1/6; in g, Op. 6/6; in F, Op. 1/5, in F, Op. 6/5 Michael Schneider, cond; La Stagione Frankfurt (period instruments) CPO 777696 (66:22)


Opening and listening to a new CPO release is like Read more discovering what’s inside Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates; you just never know what you’re going to get. Here we have a sampler of sinfonias by the 18th-century Swiss composer Gaspard Fritz (1716–1783). Though unknown before now to me , he’s not a complete stranger to Fanfare readers. A Novalis recording containing a Symphony and Violin Concerto by Fritz was reviewed almost 20 years ago by David Johnson in issue 17:6; and much more recently, in 34:6, Bertil van Boer reviewed a Guild recording of the composer’s flute sonatas. Those two entries notwithstanding, I think it’s fair to say that Gaspard Fritz is not exactly a household name, nor, for that matter, as van Boer points out, are the names of any other Swiss composers from this period. Since van Boer gives a detailed account of Fritz’s life, activities, and milieu, I will refer you to his review rather than repeat the composer’s biographical particulars here.


Suffice it to say that he trained in Italy as a violinist, though he seems not to have pursued much of a career as a touring virtuoso. His abilities on the instrument are subject to differing opinions. His playing was praised by Charles Burney who met Fritz in Geneva in 1770, but the French accorded Fritz a less enthusiastic reception when he performed at the Concerts Spirituels in Paris in 1756; they preferred the French performing style of their own Jean-Marie Leclair (1697–1764). Nonetheless, some of Fritz’s compositions were well received and were praised by Handel when they came to his attention.


The extent of Fritz’s efforts as a composer is not large. There are the six sinfonias (or symphonies) of op. 6, three of which are included on the present disc. These are believed to be fairly late works, as suggested by their publication date of sometime after 1770. In any case, they are a bit more advanced in their scoring, with two flutes and two horns added to the strings. The six sinfonias of op. 1 date to 1742, and are scored only for strings and harpsichord. In fact, their original title, Sei sonate a quattro stromenti, a violino primo, secondo, alto viola, cembalo e violoncello , provides a glimpse into the mysterious origins of the string quartet. Haydn’s earliest quartets, his op. 1, didn’t appear until 1757–59. On the present recording, Fritz’s “four-instrument” sinfonias are performed by La Stagione’s full complement of strings, which looks to be around 13 in number.


Between Fritz’s op. 1 and op. 6, there are four collections of solo and trio sonatas for violin. Those works, plus a presumably lost Harpsichord Concerto and the aforementioned violin concerto, pretty much complete the composer’s known output.


Based on the works presented here, one can sum up the music as follows: (1) formally, it adheres to the three-movement sinfonia layout of fast-slow-fast, which developed from the Italian opera overture. The one exception is the Sinfonia in F, op. 6/5, which seems to acknowledge the later classical model in expanding to four movements by including a Menuetto in third place. And (2) stylistically, Fritz clearly fits the profile of an early Classical/Galante era composer who is just about in step with his time.


If you’ve followed various surveys on disc of early classical composers, you will know what I mean when I say that Fritz would not be out of place on a disc that included works by the likes of Thomas Arne, Charles Avison, the Bach brothers, C. P. E. and J. C., Franz Benda, Cannabich, Dittersdorf, Carl Stamitz, John Stanley, and Vanhal, all of whom were relatively close contemporaries of Fritz. The English connection, in fact—Arne, Avison, and Stanley—is particularly strong, for a group of English noblemen had formed a scholarly study club in Geneva for which Fritz led musical, theatrical, and pantomimic performances between 1738 and 1743.


I’ve spoken glowingly in past reviews of La Stagione Frankfurt, mainly in performances of music by Telemann. This always fresh and alert sounding period-instrument ensemble continues to impress me with every new release. The phenomenal precision and coordination of the group are fully matched by its verve and sense of sheer joy in the playing of every note. I can’t say that the discovery of Gaspard Fritz is going to rewrite music history, but if you enjoy the music of this period and style, Fritz’s sinfonias are as enjoyable as any I know, and in these performances, they’re even more so. Definitely recommended.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sinfonia for orchestra in G major, Op. 6/3 by Gaspard Fritz
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Stagione Orchestra (Frankfurt)
Period: Classical 
Venue:  Alte Kirche, Boswil, Switzerland 
Length: 12 Minutes 57 Secs. 
2.
Sinfonia for orchestra in A major, Op. 1/6 by Gaspard Fritz
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Stagione Orchestra (Frankfurt)
Period: Classical 
Venue:  Alte Kirche, Boswil, Switzerland 
Length: 11 Minutes 31 Secs. 
3.
Sinfonia for orchestra in G minor, Op. 6/6 by Gaspard Fritz
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Stagione Orchestra (Frankfurt)
Period: Classical 
Venue:  Alte Kirche, Boswil, Switzerland 
Length: 14 Minutes 15 Secs. 
4.
Sinfonia for orchestra in F major, Op. 1/5 by Gaspard Fritz
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Stagione Orchestra (Frankfurt)
Period: Classical 
Venue:  Alte Kirche, Boswil, Switzerland 
Length: 11 Minutes 38 Secs. 
5.
Sinfonia for orchestra in F major, Op. 6/5 by Gaspard Fritz
Conductor:  Michael Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Stagione Orchestra (Frankfurt)
Period: Classical 
Venue:  Alte Kirche, Boswil, Switzerland 
Length: 15 Minutes 11 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Sinfonia No. 3 in G major, Op. 6: I. Allegro
Sinfonia No. 3 in G major, Op. 6: II. Andante Allegretto
Sinfonia No. 3 in G major, Op. 6: III. Presto
Sinfonia No. 6 in A major, Op. 1: I. Allegro
Sinfonia No. 6 in A major, Op. 1: II. Andante
Sinfonia No. 6 in A major, Op. 1: III. Allegro
Sinfonia No. 6 in G minor, Op. 6: I. Allegro
Sinfonia No. 6 in G minor, Op. 6: II. Andante
Sinfonia No. 6 in G minor, Op. 6: III. Presto
Sinfonia No. 5 in F major, Op. 1: I. Allegro
Sinfonia No. 5 in F major, Op. 1: II. Largo
Sinfonia No. 5 in F major, Op. 1: III. Allegro
Sinfonia No. 5 in F major, Op. 6: I. Allegro
Sinfonia No. 5 in F major, Op. 6: II. Andante
Sinfonia No. 5 in F major, Op. 6: III. Minuetto I-II
Sinfonia No. 5 in F major, Op. 6: IV. Presto

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