Listeners should be aware that when beginning this CD there's no need to adjust the volume, since the music itself is deliberately faint. Soon you hear oboist Bart Schneemann's voice over the musical backdrop offering his impressions on why Jacques Widerkehr selected certain key signatures for these sonatas. We learn for instance that the key of E in the first sonata represents a "naïve, feminine, innocent declaration of love--lamenting without complaining, sighs accompanied by a few tears"; and that the next sonata "in purest C major" could be compared to "a young girl dressed all in white with a rose pink ribbon at her bosom". Ahem.
Though all but forgotten today, Jacques Christian MichelRead more Widerkehr (1759-1823) apparently was one of the most famous and well-regarded composers in France. Along with his very popular Symphonies Concertantes, chamber music was his specialty, which he composed primarily for the growing amateur market in Paris at the time. The Sonatas are pleasant enough, light and tuneful, reminiscent of chamber works by some of Widerkehr's better-known contemporaries such as Devienne, Danzi, or Carl Stamitz. Schneemann and his colleague Paul Giacometti on pianoforte seem to have great fun bringing these obscurities to life, and it's unlikely that their performances will ever be bettered.
Channel Classics' sound is slightly forward and bright, which proves an ideal perspective for this music and for these particularly distinctive instrumental timbres. Schneemann's enthusiastic notes are informative, entertaining, and thankfully free of any extra-musical impressions. While less than challenging, Widerkehr's music is never less than delightful, and listeners who choose to join Schneemann and Giacometti in their exploration of a virtually unknown composer will be pleasantly rewarded.
--John Greene, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Duos (3) for Piano and Violin/Oboe/Clarinetby Jacques Widerkehr
Bart Schneemann (Oboe),
Paolo Giacometti (Piano)
Period: Classical Written: circa 1817; Paris, France Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.