WESTERHOFF Clarinet Concerto. Clarinet and Bassoon Concerto. Symphony in E? • Hermann Bäumer, cond; Sebastian Manz (cl); Albrecht Holder (bn); Osnabrück SO • CPO 777598-2 (63:14)
Little is known about, etc. You know the drill. From even as late as the 18th century, we have many composers about whom hardly anything is known, but whose works still exist. (And at least their situation is better today than those composers who have left barely a name, and nothing else.) Christian Westerhoff (1763–1806) wasRead more a violinist and double bass player at the Burgsteinfurt Court Chapel in what is today North Rhine-Westphalia. He left in 1790 on a concert tour, then secured a position as Konzertmeister at the Bückeburg court—the same post held two administrations back by the underrated Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach. Contemporary reviews of Westerhoff’s works speak glowingly of their idiomatic instrumental writing and their pleasing style. (There is also a tantalizing reference in Gerber’s Neues Lexicon to a Musik zu Ehren der Kuhpocken Einimpfung, or “Music to Commemorate the Smallpox Vaccination,” from 1801, that if it still exists deserves a recording alongside Marais’s better-known Le Tableau de l’opération de la taille, or “Visualization of a Gall Bladder Operation.”)
Both Burgsteinfurt and Bückeburg were prosperous, their rulers strongly interested in musical culture and supporting it heavily. Westerhoff led and played in performances of the latest scores he quickly acquired, which explains the cosmopolitan nature of these works. There’s a level of structural organization on the order of Rosetti’s concertos, with the opening orchestral statement in the Clarinet Concerto’s initial Allegro movement alone lasting 1: 45. His developments are lengthy, if given to little more of musical interest than the display of tone, phrasing, and agility by his soloists. Stylistically, he builds upon the galant, particularly in the warmth of its melting bel canto, and the adagio movements to both concertos provide excellent examples of this. The finales of these two works employ Germanic folk-like themes to good effect. They’re believed to date from the late 1780s, while the expansive symphony of 1796 displays an obvious appreciation of Haydn’s later works—including a couple of marvelously effective harmonic sideslips in the opening movement’s excellent development section. Westerhoff’s themes are memorable, and there’s a density and ever-changing weight to the textures that suggests possible familiarity with Mozart, especially in the all-too-short theme and variations of the second movement.
Some slight raggedness from the strings aside, the Osnabrück musicians offer a solid, disciplined sound with nice blend between the sections. Hermann Bäumer was a good choice to lead this music, focusing on clarity without sacrificing color, beauty and flexibility of phrasing, or dramatic effect. Sebastian Manz and Albrecht Holder are excellent in all respects, while their interplay in the mock-dramatic side passages of the Double Concerto’s rondo finale is exceptionally appealing. In short, if you come as I did to sample the galant concertos, you’ll stay to delight in Westerhoff’s fine symphony.
Symphony in E flat majorby Christian Westerhoff Performer:
Sebastian Manz (Clarinet)
Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Excellent!December 3, 2016By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"I agree with V. Maley's comments. CPO has once again provided us with the opportunity to sample music which otherwise would undoubtedly remain completely unknown and forgotten. How this remarkable German recording company continues to come up with such high quality and rewarding recordings is beyond me, but kudos to CPO for doing what it does so well. Christian Westerhoff was a name completely unknown to me before I listened to this disk, but as usual the experience was well worth it. Clarinetist Sebastian Manz performs Westerhoff's Clarinet Concerto and (along with bassoonist Albrecht Holder) Concerto for Clarinet, Bassoon, and Orchestra with subtle elegance- never overstated and in perfect balance with the Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra. It was a real treat to hear this combination of instruments. As for the symphony, it's full of vigor and panache, with a touch of the sophistication which marked late Haydn and early Beethoven. In other words, it's a real delight to hear. The Osnabruck SO sounds just fine under Hermann Baumer's direction, and the sonic quality of the recording is again first rate. In short, this is a program of music from the late 18th century which has real appeal and offers a refreshing alternative to the more famous musical giants forming the traditional canon from this particular time frame. Recommended without hesitation!"Report Abuse
Simply delightful music. January 14, 2014By V. Maley Jr (Pasadena, CA)See All My Reviews"The title says it all. This is another gem mined from dusty archives for CPO's ongoing efforts to turn the spotlight on works of largely forgotten composers. As a childhood clarinet player, I am particularly pleased to hear this music."Report Abuse