The sinfonia concertante was a popular genre from the final quarter of the 18th century into the first half of the 19th century. It was an outgrowth of the Baroque concerto a molti stromenti that pitted a group of soloists—sometimes quite disparate—against an accompanying orchestral body. The focus was upon the soloists, the orchestra being relegated to an accompanying role. Musicologist Barry Brook notes that the genre was largely populated by works in major keys; works that were “ relaxed, gracious and happy, rarely dramatic, never sombre or intense.”
Other characteristics of the sinfonia concertante include an increasing use of winds as soloists (as seen in this set) and the use of what I termed “disparate” soloists above;Read more the example by Koželuch that is included in this three-CD set calls for four soloists: piano, trumpet, mandolin, and double bass. The French are generally credited with the establishment of the genre, with examples appearing in the repertoire of both the Concerts Spirituel and Concerts d’Amateurs. As the heading indicates, the sinfonia concertante quickly found its way to the German-speaking countries and eventually to England by way of works from the pens of Haydn and Pleyel.
The 10 works recorded here represent CD reissues of material taken in toto from vintage vinyl originally recorded and released in the late 1970s by Electrola. Collected and edited by German clarinetist Dieter Klöcker, the artistic director of Consortium Classicum, these compositions represent what Klöcker regards as the crème de la crème of the genre. The two well-known examples by Mozart for violin and viola and flute/clarinet, oboe, horn, and bassoon are omitted here for obvious reasons. At the time of the original release, many of the composers represented here were relatively, if not completely unknown to all, save a few members of the international musicological community. However, that has changed in the intervening quarter-century with several recordings of music by Crusell, Danzi, Winter, Abel, and Koželuch.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Consortium Classicum were (and still are, for that matter) two of the finest ensembles active. Each is renowned for many traits, including razor-sharp ensemble, affluent tone and technique, and exceptional vitality—characteristics that abound in these sessions. This collaboration came about at a time when the period-instrument movement was beginning to test its legs, but the brightly paced and well-recorded compositions still abound in freshness and intelligence. They are further commended by astounding technical agility and there is abundant warmth when required. In sum, these exceptional interpretations of rare material are still unsurpassable and their position of undeniable prominence not likely to be challenged in my lifetime. Every aficionado of the Classical era should own this set, and at the special price offered by cpo, there’s no reason to avoid it.
Every piece earns your attention. June 18, 2012By Joan W. (Vancouver, BC)See All My Reviews"The music of these 9 composers is very similar - flowing, happy, perfectly harmonious. However, the melodies are beautifully different and intriguing. Wonderful musicianship. A great listen."Report Abuse