WORKS: Drottningholmsmusiken: Music for a Royal Wedding
PERFORMER: Helsingborg SO/Andrew Manze
CATALOGUE NO: BIS CD-1602
The notes include a vivid account of the lavish celebrations surrounding the Swedish royal marriage in 1744 for which Johan Helmich Roman provided these two dozen short movements.
They range from full orchestra with trumpets, horns and drums in Handelian grandeur, to gentle moments for strings with flute, oboe, and in one case bassoon obbligato.
This was not music for close, attentive listening but intended rather to provide aural enhancement of many parts of two days’ feasting and dancing. It’s best heard a few movements at a time rather than as a continuous 70-minute programme.
Roman’s music teems with ideas, all delightful and inventive, though easily forgotten as they pass quickly by rather than being worked out in long structures – 16 of the movements last under three minutes.
They’re beautifully played. Andrew Manze has passed on his outstanding experience in early-music techniques to the modern instruments of the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, with crisply bowed strings, transparent articulation and phrasing, and at times revealing some remarkable colours – the wide-ranging tonal palette of solo oboe (track 2), for example.
BIS, among the most committed champions of surround-sound, use simple stereo here. But detailed balance and the impression of Helsingborg Concert Hall’s spaciousness are excellent, nonetheless. George Pratt