COMPOSERS: C & J Stamitz & Fränzl,Cannabich,Fils
LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Mannheim Ð The Golden Age
PERFORMER: Concerto Köln
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-28366-2
‘An army of generals, equally fit to plan a battle as to fight one’ was musical diarist and traveller Dr Charles Burney’s celebrated appraisal of the Mannheim Court Orchestra in 1773. ‘Indeed, there are more solo players and good composers in this, than perhaps any other orchestra in Europe,’ Burney continued, and this latter group is honoured with this admirable new disc.
The compositions assembled here fully vindicate Burney’s plaudits, but it would be difficult to imagine the Mannheim orchestra delivering performances to beat these mercurial traversals from Concerto Köln. Best known among these works is the Cello Concerto in C by Carl Stamitz, elegantly played here by Werner Matzke. Mannheim cellist Anton Fils died shortly after composing his G minor Symphony in 1760; urgently contoured melodies and ‘Sturm und drang’ rhetoric explain his immediate posthumous fame, though Fils is scarcely remembered today.
Mozart praised the violin-playing of Ignaz Fränzl, whose Sinfonia No. 5 also finds its way on to disc for the first time in this stylish account. But the most arresting and powerful of these Mannheim works is Christian Cannabich’s E flat Symphony, which receives a noble, irrepressibly dynamic performance here. A valuable historical retrospective – highly recommended. Michael Jameson