Discography


 

 

 

 

 

Ferdinand Ries  - Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra  Volume  3  
Franz Peter Schubert - Music for Flute and Piano
Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL - Oberon's Magic Horn 

Gramophone Editor's Choice
February 2008

Joseph Martin Kraus - Violin Concerto   ...Takako Nishizaki
Ferdinand Ries - Piano Concerto, Op. 55 Vol. 2  ... Ries on the Run? - A. Badley
Johann Baptist Vanhal - Flute Quartets  ... see also videoclip of the rehearsal
Ferdinand Ries - Piano Concertos, Vol. 1   ... making history with sample
Hummel - Missa Solemnis  

Gramophone Editor's Choice 
May 2004

   
Kuhlau - Sonatas 
Vanhal - Masses  

Vanhal - Symphonies   - Cannes Classical Award 2000  

Pleyel

Cannabich

Dittersdorf
Dittersdorf Sinfonias
Penguin Guide to Compact Discs 2004/ 05
Penguin Guide to Compact Discs 2002
Discover Music of the Classical Era
The World of the 18th Century Symphony
Beethoven's Time(Highlights of the International Music Festival NZ 2001)
Magnificat(Highlights of the International Chamber Music Festival 2000)
Minuetto (Highlights of the International Chamber Music Festival 1999)
Artaria Sampler - Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Artaria Editions 2002
Artaria Editions 1998
Graduation Concert 2004
Graduation Concert 2003
Graduation Concert 2002

Haydn & Hofmann 1996

New Zealand Choral Music
Manukau City Symphony Orchestra
The First Night at the Genesis Energy Theatre
      
 

 

 

Ferdinand Ries  
Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra  Volume  3  

 

"Abschieds-Concert von England”  

 Introduction et Variations Brillantes, Op. 170   

Grand Variations on "Rule Britannia", Op. 166  

   

Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, UK   

9-10 January 2007  

   

Christopher Hinterhuber, Piano
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra  

Uwe Grodd, Conductor  

   

DDD  

Naxos  5.70440  

 

Entertaining visions of England from a pupil and friend of Beethoven  

Ferdinand Ries (1784–1838), pupil, friend and biographer of Beethoven, made London his home from 1813 to 1824. The Piano Concerto No 7 was composed in 1823, the year before he returned to the Rhineland (its subtitle Farewell Concerto from England was added by the publisher); the Variations on Rule, Britannia were composed in Hastings in 1817…while the tune for the Variations, Op 170, though not identified as such in the score, turns out to be “Soldier, soldier will you marry me / With your musket, fife and drum”. In brief, a trio of England-related works that might have been specially written to fit neatly onto one CD.  

Are they worth hearing? Not if you require spiritual nourishment or intellectual stimulation, but if you enjoy brilliant display pieces whose untroubled function is to dazzle and entertain, then Ries is your man. Hummel is the model for the piano-writing (with some fascinating passages prescient of Chopin and Mendelssohn), though the extended first movement of the Concerto, with its lengthy and quirky cadenza, is at times in danger of attempting a faux Beethovenian profundity. As on Volumes 1 and 2, the excellent Christopher Hinterhuber has his work cut out and delivers the goods in sparkling, empathetic fashion…he now has the benefit of the RLPO. The role allotted to them is, to be frank, not demanding. The booklet (Allan Bradley, also responsible for the performing editions) is first-rate, as is the recorded sound.

Jeremy Nicholas - Gramophone, September 2009

 

Composer Ferdinand Ries (1784–1838) wrote fourteen works for piano and orchestra, and I had remained unfamiliar with all of them until I auditioned this recording.  An associate of Beethoven, Ries enjoyed a concert platform career well into the 1830s. Having composed nine piano concertos, Ries inevitably suffers comparison with his more esteemed contemporary, whose influence can be felt in the flashy, martial, dotted rhythms that permeate his first offering here, the glittery 1823 Farewell to Britannia Concerto in A Major. But the harmonic functions in Ries differ decidedly in Ries, since he would rather rhapsodize than conform to any strictures about sonata-form. Cadenzas come and go, seemingly ad libitum; and the general, bombastic nature of the writing, its flamboyant fioritura, rather invites comparison with Weber’s Konzertstuck in F Minor more than with Beethoven, Hummel, Mendelssohn, or Chopin, though Ries’s rhetorical strategies borrow from them all.  

The second movement, Larghetto—which opens by almost quoting verbatim Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto—becomes “bardic,” strumming the theme over soft, string chords. A march suddenly emerges, but it, too, seems derivative of Mozart’s Requiem. Once or twice, I hear other allusions to Mozart, especially the big Concerto in C, K. 503.  Then, Mendelssohn kicks in, particularly the Capriccio Brillante, Op. 22. When I become impatient with Ries and the constantly intertwining runs and roulades, I glibly note that the piece seems 10% inspiration and 90% “scintillation.” The use of repeated notes in the first movement sounds like a stuttering sequence from Chopin or a Liszt Rhapsody, often in parody. A contemporary critic of 1824 wrote of Ries having composed for “the Aeolian harp.” I find the strings of that harp rather acrobatically arranged, which aligns me with Clara Schumann’s assessment of Camille Saint-Saens. The last movement, a flurried, galloping Allegro whose main, tripping tunes “borrow” from the last movements of Mozart’s G Minor Symphony and Chopin‘s E Minor Concerto, cascades along with predictable, if quirkily eclectic, panache.  

The second work to mark Ries’s retirement from the London stage is his 1817 Grand Variations on ‘Rule Britannia.’ An E-flat, pomposo introduction leads to a fragment—seven notes in the horns—of the jingoistic tune, a cell that assume various characters and guises, after, of course, the keyboard has had its verbose statement—the verses of the text—if you will. Each of the succeeding tuttis—acting as a responsive chorus—is numbered in the Ries score. The model for all this I suspect is Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia, Op. 80, herein diluted with ornamental peppers and paprika of a distinctly Gordian nature. Four variations behave rather placidly, given Ries’s extroverted nature; then, he begins to flex his musical muscles, changing the duple meter to a swaggering 6/8 and the tonality to A-flat. Some counterpoint ensues, rather a “learned” treatment from Ries, who thenceforth shows us he can conform—albeit playfully—to classical procedures, if he wishes. Harmonically, Ries does catch my ear with the shift for his coda; if only he would ease up on the roulades, which by now, I find a peacock’s affectation.   

Well, the sun never sets over…Ries. His Introduction et Variations Brillantes, oh so French, sets as a long introduction and four variants the tune, “Soldier, soldier, will you marry me?”  Its tripartite structure, with a long central Larghetto in A-flat Major and B Major, might just be distant antecedent for Franck’s Symphonic Variations. The dancing main air proves captivating, in a music-hall or shanty fashion, to the generous ear. The writing for flute, horns, and strings proves quite idiomatic, so let us not disparage Ries’ gifts for orchestration, keyboard facility, or stylistic variety. To wit, I grant Ries full credit for his musical mimicry of others’ styles, and concede that, were his talents in the visual arts, he might have enjoyed unqualified success as an art forger.

Gary Lemco - Audiophile Audition, July 2009

 

  

Perhaps the mother of Ries’s invention was the necessity of mass appeal. Writing to accommodate the tastes of the less musically sophisticated middle-class audiences that were increasingly finding the means to attend public concerts required a different approach. I hate the term “dumbing-down,” but we see it even in Beethoven, whose solo piano sonatas and string quartets, which were aimed at a smaller, more musically cultivated and elite audience, were more experimental and listener challenging than his concertos and symphonies, although here, too, he pushed the envelope. Likewise, Ries’s concerted works are immediately engaging, melodically and harmonically fluent, and filled with wonderfully imaginative and memorable turns of phrase.  

The grand orchestral tuttis clearly take Beethoven as their model, but the piano-writing is something else. In the A-Minor Concerto there is an exquisite prefiguring of Chopin and Mendelssohn, with its arabesques and filigree anchoring and sustaining the pivotal notes that constitute the melodic arc. This is gorgeous stuff that you will never tire of listening to. All three works on this disc date from Ries’s London period, the concerto—the seventh in order of publication and obvious from its title—was written in London in 1823 and marks the end of the composer’s period in England. The Introduction and Variations brillantes bears a higher opus number than the concerto only because it wasn’t published until later. This and the Grand Variations on “Rule Britannia” show Ries to be a thorough master of the variations style and technique.  

At present, there is little to no competition on CD in this repertoire, so Christopher Hinterhuber pretty much has the field to himself—all the more reason then to rejoice at his lively and beautifully turned performances. Uwe Grodd and the Royal Liverpool band accompany and complement him admirably. If you add to the equation over an hour’s worth of really enjoyable music, excellent playing, an outstanding recording, and Naxos’s budget price, you have a gold star winner.

Jerry Dubins - Fanfare, July 2009

 

While actual numbers are arbitrary at best—given the wide disconnect between known dates of composition and publication—the present notes seem fairly certain that the work in A minor heard here is Ries’s Seventh Concerto and dates from 1823, the year before he left London. It bears the title Abschieds-Concert von England (Farewell to England) and clearly shows that Ries at 39 was at the height of his creative powers. It’s clear from the grandeur and brilliance of this noble gesture that Ries wanted to give his adoring public something to remember him by.  

Unlike Ries’s other piano concertos, this one opens with a slow introduction, soon cast aside in favor of a confident forward stride centering around a sturdy dotted rhythm (first heard in the horns) that at once commands full attention. This rugged, yet remarkably resilient and expansive opening demands much from the orchestra as well as the soloist and sets up a satisfying give-and-take that unfolds in truly magisterial fashion, capped by a massive cadenza that surely must have held the audience transfixed. But the true centerpiece of the concerto is the Larghetto. The notes aptly tell us it “has a Beethovenian nobility about it”. The driving energy of the rondo finale is draining for listener and players alike; a bit more impish humor would not be amiss.  

If the more ephemeral, yet no less extroverted display common to the two sets of variations was intended to entertain Ries’s London audiences, they’re impeccably crafted and highly colored all the same; and they certainly don’t deserve to be dismissed by Colonial pianists merely because they make use of British themes. The Variations on the brightly tripping tune ‘Soldier, Soldier, Will you Marry me?’—unlike the finale of the concerto—has humor to spare even at a bracing clip; though as you might imagine the Liverpool players respond even more enthusiastically to Ries’s inventive and fanciful reimagining of ‘Rule Britannia’, with the full support of the yeoman horns.  

Sound is spacious and detailed, and as we reach the halfway point in Christopher Hinterhuber’s survey of the Ries piano concertos we may look ahead with renewed anticipation. You can find scores and parts at www.artaria.com.

Steven J Haller - American Record Guide, July 2009

 

  

Beethoven’s pupil Ferdinand Ries didn’t quite manage nine symphonies—he wrote eight—but he did outstrip his friend and mentor when it came to piano concertos (nine in all). Colin Clarke welcomed the first volume in Naxos’s ongoing series and Tim Perry wrote glowingly of the second; not surprisingly, I had high hopes for the third.  

Yes, such expectations do have a nasty habit of ending in disappointment, but when the signs are as auspicious as this…The Royal Liverpool band certainly needs no introduction; nor does conductor Uwe Grodd, who made such a good impression as the flautist and leader in Vanhal’s Flute Quartets (Naxos 8.570234). The Austrian pianist Christopher Hinterhuber also looks promising; he’s certainly had some illustrious teachers, Lazar Berman and Murray Perahia among them.  

Ries’s seventh concerto, written in London in 1823, is supposed to mark his farewell to the city, although the autograph score bears no such title. In any event it’s an effervescent work whose grand opening might tempt one to comparisons with Beethoven and Mozart. It’s clearly of that ilk but the music has an identity all of its own. This is writing of astonishing fluency and drive, qualities that Hinterhuber demonstrates from the outset. Arguably the orchestra sounds a little woolly here—it firms up nicely later on—but the piano remains warm and clear throughout.  

But that’s not all; Hinterhuber finds plenty of sparkle and wit as well, while always maintaining a sense of classical proportion and scale. And just listen to that lovely passage that appears briefly at 12:47, before the more ebullient mood returns. The orchestra respond to the music’s gentle rhythms with playing of great poise, but it’s in the Larghetto that they and the soloist establish a remarkable rapport. Those drowsy string figures at the start are beautifully articulated, as is Hinterhuber’s gentle reply, and one may be forgiven for thinking of the Andante to Mozart’s K.467 at times. This is lovely, twilight music, a perfect prelude to the sun-drenched Allegro that follows.  

One senses in this concerto an air of certainty and general well-being that spills over into the ‘Rule Britannia’ variations. Written in 1817 the piece has a wonderful lyricism that really plays to Hinterhuber’s interpretive strengths; he shades and points the familiar phrases with great care, reinventing ‘that tune’ with consummate skill. And what should one make of that passage at 9:42, which sounds remarkably like a snatch of ‘ragged time’? All-in-all a refreshing piece, winningly played.  

However, it’s the Introduction et Variations Brillantes that really astonishes and delights. Based on the English folk-song ‘Soldier, soldier will you marry me?’ this work has orchestral weight and drama aplenty; more than that it’s an excellent vehicle for Hinterhuber, whose aerated playing and fine rhythmic control remind me so much of that other player/performer, Gottschalk. Not as complex a piece as the earlier variations, perhaps, but delightful nonetheless.  

An admirable collection, made all the more desirable by the pianism of Christopher Hinterhuber. It’s been a while since I’ve heard playing of such consistent quality, of such lightness and character. That said, the real heroes are Ries himself—this music demands to be more widely heard—and Naxos, whose ongoing cycles and series have restored so many neglected composers to the catalogue.  

Captivating music, eloquently played and warmly recorded. Need I say more?

Dan Morgan - MusicWeb International, June 2009

 

Naxos has continued its survey of Beethoven protégé Ferdinand Ries’s excellent music. The latest release features the Piano Concerto Farewell to England (Op. 132), which is a wonderful romp. It is accompanied by some ingenious fun in the Grand Variations on “Rule Britannia” and another work.

Robert R. Reilly - InsideCatholic.com, May 2009

 

  

RECOMMENDED  

The concert begins with his seventh concerto (A minor, 1823) written as a farewell to England, and accordingly given the title "Abschieds-Concert von England." In the standard three movements, there are moments when the influence of Ferdinand’s friend and mentor Beethoven are evident, but for the most part there’s an ease and lightness of touch more typical of Ries’ contemporary Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837). Some passages even anticipate the piano concertos that would soon come from Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847) and Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849).  

In the standard three movements, the first is as long as the last two combined, and begins in furrowed brow Beethoven fashion. But the mood brightens as the piano enters, tossing off a delightful melody embellished with bravura displays. The writing is in the best tradition of romantic piano concertos, and includes a terrific cadenza that must have wowed London audiences. The movement ends in jubilation with a restatement of the opening piano theme.  

Except for a couple of forte outbursts from the orchestra, there’s a serenity and elegance about the larghetto that seem to be a Ries trademark. It leaves the listener relaxed and predisposed to the supercharged rondo finale, which contains a tiny motif [track-3, beginning at 00:55] somewhat like the opening theme from the last movement of Mozart’s fortieth symphony (1788). The concerto closes with a petite cadenza after which the orchestra chases the piano out the back door.  

The disc concludes with two sets of variations based on English melodies. The first of these, Grand Variations on "Rule Britannia" (1817), is a very clever piece of work that’s basically a theme and variations laid out in sonata form. It begins with a weighty introduction in which there are fragmented references to the main subject (see the newsletter of 18 February 2009) colorfully adorned by the piano. The soloist then states the big tune in all its glory, which Ries develops in a series of scintillating variations, covering an amazing variety of moods. The work ends in a spectacular recapitulative coda, which must be as enjoyable to play as it is to hear.  

Introduction et Variations Brillantes takes as its subject the melody for the folk song "Soldier, soldier will you marry me?" that’s reputedly of English origin, and became very popular in Colonial America. While not as structurally sophisticated as what we just heard, this piece is nonetheless a real crowd-pleaser. Here the composer uses some catchy tonal and rhythmic devices to come up with an engaging set of variations where the soloist is given plenty of opportunity to dazzle the audience. Is that a fleeting reference to "Rule Britannia" we hear just before the thrilling finale [track-5, beginning at 09:08]?  

Through their recordings for Naxos, award-winning pianist Christopher Hinterhuber and conductor Uwe Grodd are fast establishing themselves as two of today’s most up-and-coming musicians. As with their previous volumes of Ries concertos, the present release will win many friends for this unjustly neglected music. The performances by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra are every bit as good as those with the New Zealand and Gavle Symphony Orchestras on the first CDs.  

The recordings are pellucid and well focused across a convincing soundstage, with an ideal balance between the soloist and orchestra.

Bob McQuiston - Classical Lost and Found, May 2009

 

 

No critic in his/her right mind would assert that Ferdinand Ries’ piano concertos are in the same aesthetic class as Beethoven’s works in the same form. Like the concertos of his early Romantic contemporary Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Ries’ works are far more about showing off the soloist and entertaining the audience than are Beethoven’s more nobly conceived and executed masterpieces. Still, one would have to have a critical heart of stone not to be beguiled by Ries’ thoroughly attractive concertos. As played here by pianist Christopher Hinterhuber with Uwe Grodd leading the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, three of Ries’ works for piano and orchestra receive splendidly performed and wholly persuasive readings. Though the imposing three-movement concerto called “Farewell to England” is the most substantial work here and the Introduction et Variations Brillantes is the most overtly virtuosic, perhaps the best work to start with is the Grand Variations on “Rule Britannia”. In a work with a theme familiar to almost every listener, Hinterhuber’s crisp articulation and burley technique are shown to excellent advantage, and the result is the most immediately attractive piece on the disc. Recorded in clean, slightly too close sound, this disc will likely tickle the musical funny bone of listeners already familiar with Beethoven’s concertos.

James Leonard - Allmusic.com, May 2009

 

 

Here we have three works in the grand 19th century tradition, unashamedly audience-pleasers, yet without pushing the boundaries of good taste. The concerto is a grandiose,large-scale (35 minutes!) work abounding in memorable melodies, and with a Beethoven-like robust orchestration. The two sets of variations are tuneful and exciting, with mercifully minimum instances of that vulgar Britannic theme...Pianist Hinterhuber and the Liverpool orchestra under the direction of Uwe Grodd are truly spectacular.

Giv Cornfield - The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, April 2009

 

  

Though born in Germany, Ferdinand Reis, became England’s finest pianist in the first half of the 19th century, his fame linked with a sizeable catalogue of compositions. So illustrious, in fact, that at the age of 40 he had made sufficient money to retire, returning with his English wife to his native Rhineland. He marked the event with his Seventh Piano Concerto, to which he gave the subtitle ‘Farewell to England’, though the happiness of the finale may not have been entirely appropriate. Composed when still at the peak of his career, the outer movements sparkle with crystalline brilliance, with the central allegro enjoying peaceful beauty. It makes for a readily attractive score, its attraction here enhanced by a scintillating account from the young Austrian-born Christopher Hinterhuber, his ability to make runs sparkle like finely cut diamonds bringing vitality to the work’s abundant filigree bringing vitality. He, and conductor Uwe Grodd seize  the mood of the period and exactly strike the appropriate tempos, adding a degree of pensiveness at the close of the allegro. Six years earlier, in 1817, Ries created the ingenious Grand Variations on ‘Rule Britannia’, the familiar chorus not heard in full until the score has run its course for a few minutes. It’s a fun piece offering the soloist a display of virtuosity that Liszt would have envied. Rather less showy, but equally demanding on the soloist, the Introduction et Variations Brillantes, is a simple theme and four variations, based on the song Soldier, soldier will you marry me. Throughout the disc the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic show they are presently in exceedingly fine form. An immaculately balanced recording most highly recommended.

David Denton - David's Review Corner, March 2009

 

 

Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828)

Arpeggione Sonata D 821(arr. U. Grodd for flute)
Six Schubert Songs from  ‘Winterreise’, Op. 89, D. 911
and  Schwanengesang, D. 957 (arr. T. Boehm for flute)
Introduction and Variations on ‘Trockne Blumen’ from Die schöne Müllerin, Op. 160, D. 802

Recorded at the WEL Academy, Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand, from 26th to 27th August 2007

Producer and Editor: Wayne Laird    
Engineer: Paul McGlashan

Uwe Grodd, flute
Matteo Napoli, piano

Naxos Records, 2009, 8.570754  

The flute repertoire contains a number of works by Schubert, although many of them are arrangements. His flute writing in the symphonies is often quite soloistic—particularly in the fifth symphony—and his music lends itself well to the flute sound.

The Arpeggione sonata was originally composed for an instrument of that name, a type of bowed guitar which is now obsolete. The work lives on in several arrangements, for viola, cello and also flute.  Each of the flute transcriptions—there are a few—is subtly different. That by Uwe Grodd adds some further embellishment in the slow movement. This performance is a good one—the piano sound is clear and bright, and there is a good sense of partnership between the players. At times I would have liked a clearer flute sound to match that of the piano, as the microphones sometimes pick up air in the sound. The music is well phrased, and Grodd makes use of some lovely tone colours. The music is allowed to sing without being overly forced and the performers do not give in to self-indulgence.

Schubert is perhaps best known for his songs, and Theobald Boehm, developer of the modern flute, made arrangements of six of these for flute—or later for his newly invented alto flute—and piano. The first two of these songs come from Winterreise while the remaining four belong to Schwanengesang. These are wonderful arrangements, which are mostly simple and include some variation-like embellishment of the original theme. The themes are lyrical and expressive, and are played here with sensitivity. A particular favourite of mine is Ständchen, with its dark harmonies, mournful theme and turbulent climax.

Schubert’s original flute work, the Variations on Trockne Blumen is a substantial work, lasting over twenty minutes. The breathtaking introduction takes the dark harmonic mood of Ständchen and develops the lines further. This is a truly stunning opening which allows the flute an opportunity to show its rich, dark sonorous qualities. The minor key theme ends in the major, reflecting the poem (from Die schöne Müllerin), and this pattern is maintained throughout the majority of the variations. The work is a true duo, with complex technical displays for both instruments.

MusicWeb International  -  Carla Rees, 9 March 2009

 

Matteo Napoli and Uwe Grodd - Schubert

Ein Pionier der Entwicklung der Floete war Theobald Boehm (1794-1881). Ihm verdanken wir zudem eine ganze Anzahl von Adaptionen Schubertscher Werke fuer sein Instrument, so auch die hier vorliegenden Arrangements bekannter Lieder.
Es sind Auszuege aus den beiden grossen Liedzyklen: ‘Winterreise’ und ‘Schwanengesang’, die hier mit erstaunlicher Sicherheit und Klangschoenheit gespielt werden, zumal das beruehmte ‘Staendchen’ das ebenos empfindsam wie warmherzig zum Erklingen kommt. Aber auch der dritte Zyklus ‘Die schoene Muellerin’, wird vom Floetisten herangezogen, und zwar durch das einzige Werk, das Schubert fuer die Floete geschrieben hat: ‘ Introduktion und Variationen zu ‘Trockene Blumen’.  Es ist dies eine beeindruckende, 20-minuetige Komposition, die hier ueberzeugend interpretiert wird, da beide Partner fein zusammenspielen. Besonders eindrucksvoll ist die Introduktion, und Grodd weiss, deren ganze Intensitaet herauszustellen, doch auch die einzelenen Variationen kommen gut differenziert zur Geltung.  

Dass die Arpeggione-Sonate D 821 fuer verschiedene Instrumente adaptiert wurde, erscheint nur selbstverstaendlich, weil es das Instrument  Arpeggione nicht mehr gibt. So haben wir deren fuer Bratsche, Cello, Klarinette (Fabio di Casola, cf Pizzicato, Jan. 2009) und auch fuer die Floete.
Grodd stellt seine eigene vor, die vor allem im Mittelsatz durch neue Verzierungen auffaellt. Sein Spiel beweist,  ebenso wie das seines Partners Matteo Napoli, Virtuositaet und Sensibilitaet, und somit haben wir es denn mit einer CD zu tun, die Aufmerksamkeit verdient.

Pizzicato, September 2009

 
 

Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837)

Le retour de Londres – Grand Rondeau brilliant, Op.127 (1833)
Variations and Finale in B flat major, Op.115 (1830)
Oberons Zauberhorn, Op.116 (1829) 
Variations in F major, Op.97 (1820)

Gävle Symphony Hall, Gävle, Sweden
16th to 20th January 2006

Christopher Hinterhuber, Piano
Gävle Symphony Orchestra
Uwe Grodd, Conductor

DDD
NAXOS 8.557845

Gramophone Editor's Choice

Last month's One to Watch comes good in this lovely disc of Hummel rarities. Christopher Hinterhuber is terrific in these works, and seems to be fast becoming a Naxos favourite. That label also works its old and much-appreciated trick of unearthing a really excellent but little-hyped band in the Gävle Symphony Orchestra.

Ear-tickling Hummel unearthed

The four concertante pieces on this imaginative disc were written between 1820 and 1833, primarily as vehicles to show off Hummel's virtuosity at the keyboard. He wrote The Return to London in celebration of his return to the capital after 40 years - and the visit was a triumph. The jaunty main rondo theme prompts a sequence of free variations punctuated by improvisatory passages.

The Variations and Finale offers a similar free formula, again with a breezy main theme, while Oberons Zauberhorn ("Oberon's Magic Horn") uses material from Weber's opera which was being performed at the time. Surprisingly little of Weber's material is involved but it makes a colorful piece with a strikingly dramatic opening and with a storm sequence full of tremolos and horn fanfares. The Variations in F date from 1820, a simpler set, well varied, with a cadenza near the end and an emphatic close.

Christoper Hinterhuber, who has already recorded piano music by CPE Bach for Naxos, is a first-rate soloist, accompanied by the Gävle Symphony Orchestra, one of the oldest in Sweden, under its German music director Uwe Grodd. An excellent disc of long-buried rarities, well-worth hearing. 


Edward Greenfield
-
Gramophone- February 2008

 

Recorded a matter of days after their most recent Ries disc, Christopher Hinterhuber and Uwe Grodd give us what, I hope, is the first in a series of Hummel albums. There are no concertos here, but this collection of four concert pieces for piano and orchestra dating from 1820 to 1833 makes for an attractive programme. Hummel’s virtuosic music calls for finesse rather than barnstorming, and these cultivated artists know just how to play it. 

The disc opens with the last of the works to be composed, the Grand Rondeau brilliant – given the title Le retour de Londres in the published score, but referred to as Le retour à Lourdes in a letter to Moscheles. What’s in a name? This is no tone poem depicting place; rather, it is a first class vehicle for expressive pianism. The piece opens with a long-breathed introduction of imposing grandeur before Hummel blows the clouds away with a fresh breezy rondeau, full of smiles, sparkle and spice. Hinterhuber trots stylishly and at a well judged pace through the virtuosic writing and the orchestra under Grodd is sympathetically supportive. 

The longest piece in the programme, Oberons Zauberhorn, is something of a tone poem in the form of a free fantasia. It was inspired by Weber’s opera Oberon but quotes very little of the opera’s musical material: Hummel uses little more than Weber’s horn-call motif and in any case he more-or-less composes his own. The piece is musically and dramatically satisfying, veering from an atmosphere of mystery to an ebullient march; from a fierce summer storm to a joyful close. 

The Variations and Finale in B flat major begin with a grand, almost tragic larghetto before Hummel states his theme, a simple song from the Berlin stage. What he does with the tune, though, is anything but simple. Hummel reminds us in these variations of his extraordinary improvisatory facility. They are far from simple elaborations, but are ceaselessly charming. The earlier Variations in F major which bring the disc to a close are more formally structured, with the theme stated at the outset and the orchestra linking the variations. I have to confess it is my least favourite of the pieces on this disc. It seems stiff after the greater fluidity of Hummel's conception in the three pieces that precede it. At 17 minutes, it also seems overlong. That said, there is certainly nothing wrong with Hinterhuber's playing or the stylish accompaniment. 

Allan Badley again contributes a thoughtful set of liner notes and the recorded sound at this venue is as good as ever.

Naxos already has an old ex-Marco Polo recording of Hummel’s two most famous piano concertos, his Op.85 and Op.89, on its books. Perhaps now is the time for them to re-record these pieces along with the rest of Hummel’s half dozen or so piano concertos and other concertante works. It would be next to impossible for anyone to surpass Stephen Hough in Op.85 and Op.89 (CHAN 8507), but on the evidence of this disc Hinterhuber and Grodd have something to say about Hummel and it is something worth hearing.

Tim Perry - Musicweb International - February 2008

Every one of the four pieces for piano and orchestra on this new Naxos release show Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) at his most inventive. Composed between 1820 and 1833, these one-movement occasional pieces make it easy to believe reports by his contemporaries that Hummel was not only an incredible virtuoso, but also an extraordinary improviser. The spontaneity and freshness of these works may even remind some listeners of what would soon come from the great American pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869). 

Le retour de Londres -- Grand Rondeau brillant (1833) was one of Hummel's last pieces and there's a certain amount of abandon about it that's often typical of composers' final works. It opens reservedly, but it's not long before a big six-four chord announces a perky rondo theme which recurs periodically throughout the piece. The episodes between its appearances are some of the most progressive music Hummel ever came up with, and make you wonder if Chopin might have heard this. The work concludes with a thrilling coda embellished by impressive displays of digital dexterity from the soloist.

Two sets of variations separated by a period of ten years are included. The Variations in F major (1820) begins with a theme that sounds like it must have been inspired by Papageno's little song from Mozart's The Magic Flute. It's subjected to a number of delightful transformations which are less formal than is usually the case with a work of this type. In fact Hummel never strays too far from the basic melody and relies on rhythmic devices and orchestral colorations to achieve variety.

With a slow, moody introduction, the Variations and Finale in B flat major (1830) is a more involved work, but once underway there's the same lightness of touch that was present in the two preceding pieces. The theme was apparently taken from a singspiel that was popular in Berlin at that time. Although it's a catchy little number, you'll probably find this is a case where Hummel's inventive variations are far more interesting than the original tune. Be that as it may, this work must rank as one of the composer's best in this form. And again, one can only wonder at one point [track-2, beginning at 07:37] whether Chopin might have known it. Towards the end there's a lovely introspective variation followed by an animated, highly embellished reprise. This puts the frosting on this tasty torte and brings the piece to a radiant close. 

While Hummel's fantasy for piano and orchestra Oberons Zauberhorn (also known as L'Enchantment d'Oberon, 1829) was undoubtedly inspired by Weber's Oberon (1929), it's very much an independent creation except for an opening reference to the three-note horn motif that begins the opera. It's in five connected parts that include a spirited march and wonderfully spooky storm episode (there's also a storm in the stage work). The latter is made all the more dramatic by some lightning-fast runs and thunderous chords played by the soloist. The fantasy concludes with one of Hummel's most distinguished themes, which is related to the opening "Oberon" motif and introduced by the horn. Thematically speaking it brings this engaging showpiece full circle, and to an exciting conclusion.

Pianist Christopher Hinterhuber works more of his keyboard magic for Naxos here (see the newsletters of 16 January 2006 and 10 October 2007) with spirited, yet highly articulate performances of all four works. The support provided this outstanding artist by the Gavle Symphony Orchestra under Uwe Grodd is ideal.

The recorded sound is certainly acceptable, but there is some digital graininess in piano passages. It would be very interesting to hear what these pieces would have sounded like had something like Ray Kimber's IsoMike or Erik Sikkema's ULSI recording methodology been used.

 

Bob McQuiston Classical Lost and Found, January 30, 2008

Two of the major post-Beethoven musical figures were both born while Mozart was still alive; yet both were touted for a time as towering composers and worthy Beethoven successors. Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) and Louis (or Ludwig) Spohr (1784-1859) knew each other’s music; Spohr certainly thought well of Hummel’s. Hummel was a friend of Beethoven and was Haydn’s successor as Kapellmeister to Prince Esterházy in Eisenstadt. He was also a piano virtuoso of very considerable skill, with much of his writing for piano designed to demonstrate his own abilities as a performer. Christopher Hinterhuber plays four “showcase” works on this new Naxos CD – and the pieces confirm that Hummel, although scarcely the great composer he was once thought to be, never deserved the obscurity into which he later fell, and is worthy of the somewhat tentative revival of his music that has taken place in recent years.

Le retour de Londres—Grand Rondeau brilliant is the latest work here, dating to 1833, and is quite impressive. A sweeping, emotional introduction gives way to a rather trivial rondo theme that is varied in a wide variety of ways, from grand and moving to decidedly perky. The Variations and Finale in B flat major of 1830 also begins with a slow introduction, followed by a symmetrical and rather gentle theme in ¾ time that Hummel pulls apart and elaborates in more ways than the basic theme would seem to support. Oberons Zauberhorn (1831) is a fascinating work and a strange one. Purely on its own, it is an impressive dramatic fantasia built around a horn call and including, among other episodes, an unusually dark and dramatic section about two-thirds of the way through. But this work was never intended to be heard without context: it is an interpretative tribute to Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Oberon, which is built around a horn theme (but not Hummel’s horn theme) and which features similar episodes (but not using Hummel’s music). It is, in effect, Hummel’s interpretation of the mood of the opera, making references to Weber’s work without actually quoting much of its music. For those who know Oberon, Hummel’s piece will be all the more fascinating. Not so the final work in the CD, though: the Variations in F Major (1820) are workmanlike but not particularly distinguished. However, they do clearly show Hummel’s place in musical history, since the theme itself is distinctly Mozartean, featuring interesting ornamentation and considerable poise and balance.

Hinterhuber plays all this music with a great deal of panache, and Uwe Grodd and the Gävle Symphony Orchestra provide absolutely wonderful backup: detailed, enthusiastic and very well played.

 

Infodad.com, December 2007

 
Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-1792)

Violin Concerto in C major, VB 151
Olympie: Incidental Music VB 33
Azire: Ballet Music VB 18

Town Hall Wellington, New Zealand
4th to 6th September 2006

Takako Nishizaki, Violin
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Uwe Grodd, Conductor


DDD
'18th Century Concerto' NAXOS Records, 2007, 8.570334

 

The only  surviving concertante work of Joseph Kraus, the Violin Concerto in C major is substantial in both length and content. It incorporates moments of technical brilliance and displays influences from Mannheim, where Kraus learnt his trade.

Takako Nishizako makes a persuasive case for it with solo playing of Classical poise and tonal purity. More might have been made of Kraus’s prescribed dynamic contrasts, especially in the first movement, but Nishizaki shows a natural, supple response to the line and phrase in the dramatic central Adagio, revelling in its soaring melodies and moments of almost recitative-like freedom. She plays the minuet-like finale with an attractive, chimerical lightness, which comes especially to the fore in its two expansive episodes. Uwe Grodd and his forces support in a traditional but uninflated style and give powerful accounts of music from Kraus’s Olympie and Azire. These recordings are clean, with fresh string-tone and well-defined bass.

Robin Stowell - The Strad

 
Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838)
Piano Concerto, Op.55 Vol. 2
Swedish National Airs with Variations, Op.52
Introduction and Polonaise, Op.174


Gävle Symphony Hall, Gävle, Sweden
09th to 13th January 2006

Christopher Hinterhuber, Piano
Gävle Symphony Orchestra
Uwe Grodd, Conductor


DDD
NAXOS 8.557844
"Grodd und das Orchester aus Gävle begleiten so versiert, dass am Erfolg der Interpretation keine Zweifel bestehen. Mit solchem Engagement vorgetragen, dürfte Ries´ op. 55 auch im Konzertsaal zünden" .... more

Michael Loos - http://www.klassik.com/- Oktober 2007

Naxos' ongoing series devoted to the complete piano concertos of Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) continues with this recently released second volume. The program begins with two of his shorter, occasional pieces for piano and orchestra, the Swedish National Airs with Variations (1811) and the Introduction and Polonaise (1833). While the earlier work is notable for the wealth of Swedish folk material incorporated into it, its dramatic opening owes a great debt to Beethoven. This is understandable considering Ries was a close friend and student of his. But the real surprise comes a few minutes in, where there are passages which may remind you of Frederic Chopin. This is even more astounding when you consider it predates anything the great Polish pianist-composer ever wrote. Oddly enough, there's much less evidence of any Chopin connection as far as the later Introduction and Polonaise is concerned despite the fact that it's based on a Polish dance and was contemporary with Frederic's earlier compositions. You may even find yourself double-checking the track listings to make sure these two selections appear in the right order. In any case, both works are brilliant pianistic showcases that provide the soloist with plenty of opportunities for dazzling displays of digital dexterity. The disc is filled out with another of the eight Ries piano concertos. The one included here is in C sharp minor and probably dates from around the same time as the Swedish variations. Unfortunately, the album notes, like those for the first volume, are totally confusing as to the order of its composition with respect to the other seven concertos. But no matter, because you'll find it's easily on a par with the two that appeared previously (see the newsletter of 16 January 2006). Once more the influence of Beethoven is very evident. However, there's a melodic suppleness and warmth here that make it a unique Ries creation, and again anticipate what would come from Chopin. This is particularly true of the closing rondo, whose main theme is similar in spirit to Frederic's Rondo a la Krakowiak (1828). Do you suppose both composers were mining the same vein of Polish folk music? As with their previous disc for Naxos, pianist Christopher Hinterhuber and conductor Uwe Grodd couldn't be better advocates for this unjustly neglected music. The performances by the Gavle Symphony Orchestra are every bit as good as those by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on the first CD. The recorded sound is quite striking, with only a slight hint of digital graininess in some of the more complex piano passages. In short, this is a package of Ries's pieces that's pretty hard to resist! By the way, make sure you investigate the magnificent piano quartet arrangement Ferdinand made of his mentor's Eroica Symphony (No.3, 1803) (see the newsletter of 15 September 2007). (P071007)

Bob McQuiston - Classical Lost and Found- Oktober 2007

... see also videoclip of the rehearsal 

 

Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813)
Flute Quartets
Op. 7, Nos. 2, 3 and 6


Grace Church-on-the-Hill, Toronto, Canada
13th to 15th June 2006

Uwe Grodd, Flute
Janaki String Trio
(Serena McKinney, violin; Katie Kadarauch, viola; 
Arnold Choi, Cello)


DDD
NAXOS 8.570234

Uwe Grodd ‘ Fastidious Elegance!”

Three elegant but melodically routine works, Op 7 No 2, 3 and 6 by Vanhal, a contemporary of Haydn, are played with fastidious elegance by Uwe Grodd and the Janaki String Trio. Grodd’s strong projection of pure tone across all registers and finely contoured phrasing earns this distinctive flautist my great respect.

    Ian Dando  NZ Listener  November 10-16 2007

“…Attractive works and performances. Playing of deft sensitivity, full of proportion, equilibrium, expressive contouring and lyrical affection. ...”              

Vaňhal’s chamber music includes a folio of works for flute and amongst those are seventeen Flute Quartets. They were clearly popular in their day having been published by more than one publisher and were written either for flute or for oboe. One even exists in a version for Clarinet Quartet. The set was originally published in 1771 but this recording prefers to use the more influential Sieber edition of 1772.
 
Fortunately the performances and each of the three quartets prove attractive. The players of the Janaki String Trio and flautist Uwe Grodd play on modern instruments and do so with deft sensitivity. There is little in the way of pyrotechnical frisson – the Viennese muse here is full of proportion, equilibrium and expressive contouring, all garnished with lyrical affection. The solo instrument’s integration into the texture is exemplified by the opening Moderato of the B flat major where we find an aloofly elegant presentation of melody lines and a text book working out of themes. The slow movement of the same quartet is richly lyrical and the succeeding scherzo fluent, genial and full of expertly judged voice distribution.
 
The G major quartet represents another facet of Vaňhal’s command of chamber textures and rhythms – the natural buoyancy of his material. The Allegro moderato springs along with zest but controlled elegance. Note the pointed cello lines, so adroitly brought out by Arnold Choi, and Serena McKinney and Katie Kadarauch’s violin and viola statements. Doubling of the melody line is done with matching tonal reserves – small scale playing and rightly so. The pert Minuet of the C major has its counterpoint in the more ebullient moments of the Presto finale. Counter-lines are well brought out and Grodd once more ensures that his role is never one that draws undue attention to himself at the expense of his colleagues.
 
Naxos has used this recording location before and it absorbs the playing without magnifying it unduly. The handy notes also disclose that these are world premiere recordings.

 

Jonathan Woolf- MusicWeb international - April 2007

“Performances could not be bettered”


Another Naxos release finds Auckland flautist Uwe Grodd with the American Janaki Trio in three flute quartets by the Czech Johann Baptist Vanhal, a successful freeelancer and one of the most popular composers of 18th-century Vienna.
  
 Performances could not be bettered and the Canadian recording has an attractive ambience.

New Zealand Herald May 2007

 
Ferdinand RIES (1784-1838)
Piano Concertos, Vol. 1
Op. 128 (1806) und Op. 151 (1826)


Michael Fowler Centre Wellington New Zealand
1-3 February 2005

Christopher Hinterhuber, Piano
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Uwe Grodd, Conductor


DDD
NAXOS 8.557638
Sample

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s partnership with Naxos has produced first-rate outings this year. Hot of the press, are two Piano Concertos by Ferdinand Ries. Austrian Christopher Hinterhuber is a stylish soloist and Auckland’s own Uwe Grodd draws idiomatic, sparkling performances from the orchestra. The music itself is halfway house between Beethoven and Chopin, with a few ripples from Weber on the side, heard at its very best in the two slow movements.

William Dart, New Zealand Herald, 12/14/2005

Much of the credit for this recording's success is due to the verve and conviction of the soloist, whom I have not encountered before: Austrian born and a pupil of Lazar Berman, among others.  If Howard Shelley is the current undisputed master in this kind of repertoire, Hinterhuber comes not far behind.  The New Zealanders provide keen and sympathetic support under Grodd and the recorded balance is exemplary.  This distinguished release is completed by the booklet from Allan Badley , who also provided the performing edition of these delightful concertos. If these two world premiere recordings are anything to go by, the complete Ries for piano and orchestra promised by Naxos will be a most welcome addition to the catalog.

 Jeremy Nicholas - Gramophone, Dec. 2005

An hour of sheer delight here. Ferdinand Ries is probably best known for his associations with Beethoven. Here is an opportunity to hear how he sounds on his own two compositional feet in two world premiere recordings.

And excellent they are, too. Christopher Hinterhuber is a pupil of Lazar Berman, and something of his mentor's facility has obviously rubbed off. Scores which are presumably often black with semiquavers clearly are bread and water to this pianist. The 'Gruss an den Rhein' concerto (first on the disc; second in the booklet notes) was composed at Bad Godesberg. Ries grew up in the area of the Rhine, and something of that river's unhurried majesty is conveyed in the first movement. The orchestra's opening is warm and very, very welcoming, for example. Hinterhuber revels in the sparkling piano writing, often very close to Chopin in its filigree.

The slow movement (Larghetto con moto) is only five minutes long but is a lovely Nocturne that reveals the warmth carried by the recording. The finale is prefaced by a cadenza; dazzling fingerwork here. When it arrives properly, this last movement is as jolly as they come. To its credit, the New Zealand orchestra manages to sound involved throughout; no easy task surely in works that are clearly designed as pianistic showcases.

The C major Concerto, Op. 123 seems closer to Hummel than Chopin, with liberal dollops of Beethoven along the way. The first movement is a dramatic entity, with Ries surely trying a couple of things along the way. The recording in this case seems particularly well-balanced in forte, opening out nicely. There is much fantasy here too; only the cadenza tends towards the weak.

The long and restful 'Larghetto quasi andante' includes a lovely clarinet solo and a dark central section before the sparkling rondo-finale - quite suave at times - rounds off a most enjoyable disc. When the orchestra opts to add a 'raw' edge, it is as if it is nodding in the direction of the 'authentic'. A nice touch.

An excellent disc. One of the beauties of Naxos is that one can experiment with rare repertoire at low cost. Here that cost is certainly justified.

Colin Clarke - MusicWeb-International.com,  January 2006 

 

.... Soloist, orchestra, conductor and recording quality are all beyond reproach. The young Austrian, Christopher Hinterhuber, displays a mature understanding of the traditions out of which Ries’s music grows and is quite unphased by the more bravura passages. He finds wholly sympathetic partners in The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Uwe Grodd. This CD, I am pleased to report, is announced as the first volume in a projected series of the composer’s complete works for piano and orchestra. If its successors are as good as this, the series will introduce us to a lot of very attractive music.

Glyn Pursglove - MusicWeb-International.com,  January 2006

 

Naxos and affiliates are doing the music world a double favor, not just by recording this worthy music in fine performances, but also by publishing it (through Artaria Editions) so that others have the opportunity to play it. Let's hope that they do. Ferdinand Ries likely was Beethoven's most famous pupil, and if you've been collecting CPO's complete symphony cycle, you already know that he was a significant if not earth-shattering creative voice. Twenty years separate these two concertos. The earlier C major piece dates from 1806 and obviously recalls Mozart as its chief model (Beethoven's Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos had yet to appear). It's very pretty, tuneful, and effectively written for the soloist. Speaking of which, Christopher Hinterhuber plays extremely well, and presumably deserves credit for the excellent cadenza at the end of the first movement.

 

The Concerto in A-flat, subtitled "Gruss an den Rhein", represents a musical homecoming for the composer after many years spent in London. The triple-time opening movement might call to mind Schumann in his similarly ebullient "Rhenish" mood, as does the piano writing itself. If you've enjoyed the contemporary concertos of Hummel, then you will know what to expect: music halfway between Beethoven and Chopin. The increase in virtuosity goes hand in hand with a more relaxed formal organization. In the first movement the opening tutti is quite brief, and there are no formal cadenzas at all. This concerto deserves to return to the active repertoire, with Hinterhuber's elegance and verve (not to mention his nice, clean scales) making an excellent case for the work. Uwe Grodd also deserves credit for conducting the New Zealand Symphony with the requisite energy. To the credit of all concerned, the music never once sounds second rate. The sonics are very fine too. A real discovery, then, and best of all Naxos lists this as "Volume 1".

David Hurwitz - www.classicstoday.com, January 2006

 

 

... Das gesangliche, schwelgerische Thema des ersten Satzes könnte glatt als Sinnbild der Rhein-Romantik durchgehen. Pianist und Dirigent belassen es hier jedoch nicht beim Bad in der Sentimentalität, sondern geben der Musik erfreulich klare Konturen.... ... more.

Andreas Friesenhagen - Fono Forum, February 2006

 


... der aus Deutschland stammende Uwe Grodd hat an der Spitze des Neuseeländischen Symphonieorchesters zuvor mit einer interessanten Reihe klassischer Raritäten von sich hören lassen. 

Hinterhuber and Grodd are the ideal team for Ries’ (1784-1838) music. ....
.....What an exciting start to this series!
... more.

Mátyás Kiss - Piano News, February 2006

 

 
Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837)
Missa Solemnis in C major (1806)
Te Deum (1806) [12:01]


Michael Fowler Centre Wellington New Zealand
3-5 February 2003

Patricia Wright (soprano)
Zan McKendree-Wright (alto)
Patrick Power (tenor)
David Griffith (bass)
Tower Voices New Zealand
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Uwe Grodd, conductor


DDD
NAXOS 8.557193 [56:59]
Sample:  
Te Deum
  Te Deum (Excerpt from the beginning - Download approx. 3,8 MB/ wma) 
Missa Solemnis in C major
  Benedictus (Excerpt from the beginning - Download approx. 3 MB/ wma) 
  Agnus Dei (Excerpt from the beginning - Download 3,6 MB/ wma) 

 

And good to see music-making of this vigour and mastery coming from New Zealand – it makes a change from hobbits.

James Jolly, Gramophone, Editor’s Choice , May 2004

A richly sung and played complement to the Gramophone Award winning Masses.

Grodd inspires vigorous playing and singing from his forces, who are freshly and cleanly recorded. 

Edward Greenfield, Gramophone, May 2004

 

'The New Zealand choir and orchestra do Hummel proud. Celebratory movements have a fine, ringing impetus, while Uwe Grodd shapes the more reflective sections with real tenderness. A word, too, for the soloists in the "Sanctus" and "Benedictus", led by the shining soprano of Patricia Wright'.

Richard Wigmore, Daily Telegraph 3/4/04


'Here with New Zealand forces, including the brilliant professional chamber choir, Tower Voices, we have the longest of Hummel’s five Masses along with an electrifying setting of the Te Deum... A thrilling issue, all the more recommendable at a super-bargain price.'

Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 12/3/04



'Uwe Grodd coaxes a magnificent, spirited performance from his Antipodean forces. ****'

 Andrew Clarke, The Independent, 22/03/04



I wonder just how many people will have been put-off by seeing a New Zealand orchestra and choir performing a Classical German mass. I used to have this romantic ideal that only the Austrian and German orchestras could play Mahler, Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart, only the Russians could play Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich and only an English orchestra could perform Elgar and Vaughan Williams. I now know that holding onto these blinkered principles only serves to deprive the listener of many superbly performed works. Although an orchestra may have a tradition of playing a home-composer's music it certainly doesn't have the monopoly on delivering wonderful interpretations. Recent examples of marvellous performances that I have heard on disc include Beethoven from Nashville Tennessee, Rimsky-Korsakov from Malaysia, Bernstein from New Zealand, J.S. Bach from Japan, Shostakovich from Italy and Shostakovich from Australia.

There can be no other composer surrounded by as much great musical talent as Johann Hummel. Mozart took the young Hummel into his home for music tuition and later Hummel received instruction from luminaries such as Clementi, Albrechtsberger, Haydn and Salieri. Furthermore Hummel became acquainted with Beethoven. Surrounded by great masters Hummel had the best possible Classical teachers and became an eminent and brilliant concert pianist undertaking an extensive concert tour of Europe and Russia as well as composing a wide variety of works.



In 1804 Hummel took over from the ageing Haydn as the kapellmeister at the court of Prince Esterhazy. The appointment was not without conflict and tension and Hummel was summarily dismissed following a chaotic episode on Christmas Day 1808 and was reinstated when the Prince relented.

The Prince Nicolaus II of Esterhazy instigated the tradition of having a newly composed Mass performed on the name-day of his wife the Princess Maria Hermenegild. Following in Haydn's footsteps, Fuchs, Hummel and Beethoven all wrote Masses for the occasion. Hummel composed five settings of the Mass between 1804 and 1808 and the Missa Solemnis in C major was written in 1806 especially for the wedding of the Prince's daughter, the Princess Maria Leopoldina Esterhazy. To be asked to write a Mass to celebrate what must have been Europe's 'society wedding of the year', given the wealth, fame and rank of the two families concerned, gives a clear indication of the high professional standing that Hummel was held in at that time.

Renowned musicologist Allan Badley who wrote the booklet notes holds the view that Hummel's Missa Solemnis, "is a worthy successor to the late Haydn Masses. It's brilliant, inventive and flexible choral writing and technical resourcefulness are the work of an experienced and gifted composer."

Hummel composed the Te Deum in 1806, three months before the Missa Solemnis. It is thought to have been composed at Prince Esterhazy's behest to celebrate the signing of the Peace Treaty at the end of the war between the Austro-Russian alliance and France following Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz. In the view of Allan Badley the Te Deum, "is an immensely attractive work. The orchestration blazes with primary colours and the choral writing is fluid and attractive. Although relatively short in duration, the Te Deum contains moments of great emotional gravity as well as pure transcendent joy."

Hummel's reputation was at an all-time low in the 1900s and I have seen various disparaging references to his music lacking substance and emotion. However this wonderful release of world premiere Hummel recordings from Naxos should go a long way to help redress the balance.

The singing from the soloists and the Tower Voices New Zealand is glorious and it is really hard to understand why these wonderful works have not been recorded before now. The richly coloured and sonorous choral singing with beautifully detailed orchestral textures have been successfully recorded in the excellent venue of the Michael Fowler Centre, in Wellington.

In both works from the first bar to the last, a sense of urgency, energy and reverence prevails. There are dedicated contributions from the soloists, chorus and orchestra under the assured direction of the talented and experienced conductor Uwe Grodd who gives a vigorous and forceful reading; high in intensity. This is an excellent release which has a first class recorded sound together with a spectacular cover picture of 'Christ the Saviour of the world'.

A superbly performed release of wonderful music that deserves to be heard. Another sure-fire winner from the high-flying Naxos stable.

Michael Cookson, Music Web Classical CD

 

Auf der letzten Bookletseite zu der CD ist die Adresse angegeben, unter der man das Aufführungsmaterial zu diesen beiden Weltersteinspielungen bestellen kann und das ist klug: kaum ein engagierter Chorsänger, den es bei dieser so mitreißenden wie effektvollen Musik nicht zum spontanen Mitsingen reizen würde. Und jeden Chorleiter, der nur ein wenig experimentierfreudig ist, sollte es ebenfalls in den Fingern jucken, diese dankbaren, chorreichen und von der ersten bis zur letzten Note Esprit und gute Laune verbreitenden Stücke auf eines seiner nächsten Programme zu setzen. Nur Mut! Uwe Grodd mit den Tower Voices und dem Neuseeländischen Symphonieorchester haben vorgemacht, dass es weder eines Spezialisten- noch einsamen Spitzenensembles bedarf, um diese im Geiste des späten Haydns erfundene Musik zu überwältigenden, unmittelbaren Wirkungen zu verhelfen - ganz im Gegensatz übrigens zu Hummels exquisiter Kammer- und Klaviermusik, die wegen ihrer pastellenen Anmut ein ewiger Geheimtipp für feinsinnige Kenner geblieben ist. Durchaus nicht immer subtile Begeisterung für die strahlenden und aussingbaren Partien verbunden mit ungekünstelter Musikalität schlagen in Messe und Te Deum dagegen mühelos den Spannungsbogen selbst über Passagen mit hörbaren Intonationsunreinheiten; die dramaturgisch wirklich bedeutenden dynamischen Kontraste, Spitzentöne und Wortbetonungen packen die Musiker dafür mit mitreißend lustvoller Sicherheit an. Und lange bevor die feurige Melodik vorhersehbar zu werden droht, erinnert uns der 1778 geborene und 1837 gestorbene Mozart-Schüler Hummel mit einer unerwarteten harmonischen Wendung, einem überraschenden A-cappella-Einschub oder effektvollen instrumentalen Soli daran, dass er bei aller Liebe zum klassischen Erbe bereits mit beiden Beinen im 19. Jahrhundert steht.

RONDO Magazin - Carsten Niemann, 31.7.2004

 

Johann Nepomuk Hummel 
Missa Solemnis in C; Te Deum
Naxos  8.557193. 
Wright, McKendree-Wright, Power, Griffiths, Tower Voices, New Zealand SO, Grodd.   

Key recording - suitable as a basis for a collection. 
*** An outstanding performance and recording in every way. 

"Following Richard Hickox's brilliant Chandos issue of two Hummel Masses (Chan. 0681 - see our main volume) comes more evidence of the vigour that this neglected composer brought to his choral works. On the recommendation of Haydn he was carrying on the tradition of writing annual Masses for Prince Esterházy, demonstrating what a sense of drama he had in illustrating the liturgy, masterly in counterpoint and orchestration, never resorting to note-spinning, as he often does in his keyboard writing. Here with New Zealand forces, including the brilliant professional chamber choir, Tower Voices, we have the longest of Hummel's five Masses in coupling with an electrifying setting of the Te Deum. Both were written in 1806, and one is constantly reminded that this was the period of the Napoleonic wars, when each of these works so often features martial music with fanfares, trumpets and drums. Unlike most Anglican settings, this Te Deum ends on a grand fortissimo. A thrilling issue, all the more recommendable at super-bargain price.

 

March, Ivan; Greenfield, Edward & Layton, Robert. 2004. 
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs, Yearbook 2004/ 5. London: Penguin Books.

 

 

 

FRIEDRICH KUHLAU 
Sonatas for Flute and Piano

op 83

Michael Fowler Centre Wellington New Zealand
September 2000

Uwe Grodd, flute
Matteo Napoli, piano
(www.matteonapoli.com)

 NAXOS 8.555346

Friedrich Kuhlau (1786 - 1832):
Sonata for flute and piano in G major, Op 83, No 1
Sonata for flute and piano in C major, Op 83, No 2
Sonata for flute and piano in G minor, Op 83, No 3

Sample: Sonata for flute and piano in C major, Op. 83, No. 2

  Larghetto (Excerpt from the beginning - Download approx. 2 MB/ wma)  

 

Künstlerische Qualität:

Klangqualität:

Gesamteindruck:

(Beste Bewertung:

7

8

8

10)

Gemessen an der Bedeutung der Flöte in Friedrich Kuhlaus Kammermusikwerken ist die Ausbeute an Einspielungen speziell des Sonatenzyklus op. 83 bisher dürftig. Mit Uwe Grodd, dem aus Deutschland stammenden Neuseeländer, hat Naxos einen Solisten gewonnen, den man als einen Virtuosen mit optimalen Voraussetzungen für die Interpretation dieses Flötenopus würdigen muß: perlende Ornamentik und aufblühende Tongebung, getragen von einem großzü'gigen Atemstrom. Bereits im Jahre 2000 wurde dieser Künstler als solistisch Mitwirkender bei der Naxos-Produktion von Vanhal-Sinfonien mit dem 'Cannes Classical Award' prämiert. Kuhlau selber wurde dagegen bereits beim Erscheinen seines op. 83 im Jahre 1827 als 'Beethoven der Flöte' gepriesen. Damit gewinnt die vorliegende Produktion auch musikhistorisch einen hervorzuhebenden Stellenwert. Überdies verrät der opulente Klavierpart, daß der Komponist seine Berühmtheit am dänischen Hofe zunächst seiner Karriere als Konzertpianist zu verdanken hatte. Allerdings hat Matteo Napoli als Klaviervirtuose beim Schwelgen in gefühlvoll-melodiösen 'Begleit' - Romantizismen gewisse Anschlaghärten im Diskantbereich (Tücke des Konzertflügels?) nicht vermeiden können (Tr. 8).

Gerhard Pätzig, Klassik Heute

If you ask any music lover which composer other than Berg wrote an opera called Lulu, as well as one called William Shakespeare, I wonder what they would say? The answer is Friedrich Kuhlau, the German composer who settled in Denmark, an exact contemporary of Weber and similarly short-lived. He is probably best known for his piano sonatinas, which still crop up with monotonous regularity as exam set-pieces. In fact, he has been re-evaluated of late as an important figure in early Danish romanticism, and the three mature sonatas gathered together on this disc apparently earned him the enviable title 'the Beethoven of the flute'. The nickname is not without its aptness, as the shadow of the master looms large in these works. He had in fact met and shared musical jokes with Beethoven whilst visiting Vienna in the 1820s, and the formal layout of each piece clearly mirrors the classical structures of Mozart and Beethoven, particularly the latter's middle-period piano sonatas.
It seems that Kuhlau did not play the flute himself but sought technical advice from a friend in the theatre orchestra in Copenhagen. The G major First Sonata seems to me most memorable for its minor-key slow movement, built around variations on a Swedish song 'Sorrow’s Might'. The brilliant finale, with its Andante sostenuto central episode, finishes with a Beethovenian flourish on the piano. The dramatic C minor slow introduction to the Second Sonata cannot escape comparison either, and as the piano launches into a vivacious C major Allegro, one is constantly reminded of all those great models of the past. In fact the tunefulness, coupled with the major/minor feel of so much of the material, had me in mind of Schubert, another near contemporary. It is fitting that the set should end with probably the best of the bunch, a sonata employing all the dramatic elements that its key of G minor would suggest. The hymn-like lyricism of the slow movement is varied and contrasted as it proceeds, with the initial calm finally being restored. The jubilant Rondo alla polacca finale is a fitting end, offering opportunity for both players to revel in the brilliant sparkle of the writing.
The performances by two names new to me are generally of a very high standard, though a shade more warmth wouldn’t have gone amiss in some of the more lyrical passages. The pianist appears to drive much of time in some of the allegros (possibly Kuhlau reflecting his own virtuosity on that instrument) and Matteo Napoli rises to the occasion admirably. The slightly resonant recording should not put anyone off investigating this disc, another good example of Naxos allowing us to experience unfamiliar yet rewarding territory.

Tony Haywood, Classical Music on the Web



The son of an army regimental musician, grandson of an oboist and town musician, and nephew of an organist and town musician in Aalborg, Friedrich Kuhlau was born in 1786 at Uelzen, near Hanover, and moved with his family successively to Lüneburg and Brunswick. In Lüneburg he had piano lessons and started writing music, and in Brunswick he completed his early education at the Katharineum. At the turn of the century he went with his parents to Hamburg, studying there with the organist, composer and mathematician Christian Friedrich Gottlieb Schwenke, who had succeeded CPE Bach, his own teacher, as Hamburg Stadtkantor in 1788 and had held the position of organist at the Katherinenkirche since 1783. A year earlier CPE Bach had arranged for Schwenke to study with Marpurg and Kirnberger in Berlin. In 1804 KUhlau began his career as a pianist and remaned in Hamburg until the occupation of the city by Napoleon in 1810 and the compulsion to military service, from which it seems blindness in one eye, the result of a childhood accident, would not have excluded him. He then took refuge in Copenhagen under an assumed name, attempting to establish himself there as a pianist at the court in 1811. In 1813 he was naturalised and the following year was appointed a court chamber musician, a position that was unpaid until 1818, when token payment was allowed. In the same year he was joined in Denmark by his parents and sister, making it mecessary to earn more money for their support, increasing his work as a concert pianist and as a teacher. In 1815 he had enjoyed success with a Singspiel, Roverborgen (Robbers' Castle,) at the Royal Theatre, where he found employment for a season as chorus-master and was able to have his first opera staged. At the same time he was winning a reputation as a pianist throughout Scandinavia. He visited Berlin and Leipzig on various occasions and was twice in Vienna, on the second occasion in 1825 spending an evening with Beethoven and his friends, of which subsequent memories were hazy. The party had walked in the countryside, before dining at an inn, where the consumption of champagne had a similar effect on Beethoven's powers of recall, although he had written a canon punning on Kuhlau's name, to the words kühl night lau (Cool, not lukewarm), which he sent to Kuhlau, while the latter had responded with a cannon on the name of Bach. In 1828 Kuhlau wrote music to celebrate a royal wedding, Elverhoj (The Elf Hill), and was awarded the title of Professor with an increased stipend. In 1831 a fire at his home at Lyngby, near Copenhagen, where he had rented a house since 1826, a year after the death of his parents, not only destroyed many of his unpublished compositions and writings but had a deleterious effect on his health, leading to his death the following year. Kuhlau, as a successful pianist and teacher, wrote a quantity of music for the piano, although his second piano concerto was destroyed in the fire of 1831. These compositions included salon music and pieces of varied technical difficulty that were of practical use in teaching. In addition to his stage works, which enjoyed variable success, he left songs and chamber music, with a particular emphasis on compositions for the flute, an instrument that it seems that he did not play himself, profiting, however, from the technical advice of a flautist in the theatre orchestra. His first attempts at writing for the flute had been in Hamburg, but it was in the 1820s that he embarked on a series of works, including the three Sonatas for flute and piano, Opus 83, published in Bonn in 1827, that earned for him the title of 'the Beethoven of the flute'.

The Sonata in G major, Opus 83, No 1, touches on G minor almost at once and continues in a form that suggests the classical inheritance that he enjoyed, as a near contemporary of Weber, from the world of Mozart and of Beethoven. The minor-key slow movement brings variations on a Swedish song, Sorgens magt (Sorrow's Might), although melancholy is disspiated in passing, before the final return of the theme. The sonata ends with a movement in which flute and piano set out to match each other in brilliance, their course interrupted by a passage marked Andante sostenuto, brought to an end by a piano cadenza.

The second of the set, the Sonata in C Major, Opus 83, No 2, has further suggestions of Beethoven. The first movement has a dramatic slow introduction in C minor, before the piano launches into a C major allegro, soon to be joined by the flute, in thematic material foreshadowed in the introduction. The E major Larghetto starts with the singing tone of the piano, soon joined by the flute. The last movement opens with a principal theme that, as so often, touches briefly on the minor, a rondo that offers both instruments a chance of display in a movement that brings episodes of distinct contrast.

The set ends with the Sonata in G Minor, Opus 83, No 3. It is introduced by the piano, soom joined by the flute, in a movement that has the element of drama suggested by the choice of key. The hymn-like lyricism of the slow movement is varied as the movement proceeds, before the initial serenity is restored. The sonata ends with a Rondo alla polacca, in which an opportunity is again offered for concluding brilliance in the writing for both instruments.

Keith Anderson

 

“The interpretation is joyful, a delight of naturalness, elegance and  perfect coherence, tempi and rhythms subdued  but without loss of  fluidity  (or fluency). Interesting.”

A.B.L Ritmo, 4/2002

 

Kuhlau er blevet kaldt „fløjtens Beethoven“ og disse vidunderlige sonater fra 1827 er et udmærket eksempel på hvorfor. Kuhlau mødte i øvrigt sit idol Beethoven i 1825 i Wien, hvor de sammen drak sig meget berusede i champagne.
Uwe Grodd er en af New Zealands ypperste fløjtenister og Matteo Napoli har vundet adskillige internationale konkurrencer.
Dansk Guldaldermusik når den er allerbedst.

 

 

 

J B Vanhal
Mass: Missa Pastoralis in G and Missa in C

recorded in July 2000 for Naxos;
Aradia Baroque Orchestra, TOWER VOICES NZ,
St Johns Cathedral Napier

Naxos 8.555080
      
Vanhal Premieren
Sample: Missa Pastoralis in G major
   Agnus Dei (Excerpt from the beginning - Download approx. 4,3 MB/ wma) 

 

Es sind dies die Ersteinspielungen der Missa Pastoralis in G-Dur und der Missa Solemnis in C-Dur von Johan Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813). Das ausnahmslos kanadische Sohstenquartett ist recht ausgewogen und erfüllt weitgehend die Anforderungen, die die ebenso an Haydn wie an Mozart erinnernde Musik an die Sänger stellt. Den Chor hätte man sich in den einzelnen Stimmen etwas konturierter gewünscht. Das ebenfalls kanadische Aradia Ensemble spielt unter Uwe Grodds betont Natürlichkeit im Ausdruck anstrebender Leitung traditionell klassisch. Chor und Orchester stehen in guter akustischer Relation.                                     RëF, Pizzicato Nov 2001

Johann Baptist Vanhal verdiente semen Lebensunterhalt nicht als fest angestellter Kirchenmusiker. Gleichwohl sind seine Sakralwerke alles andere als Gelegenheitskompositionen, zeugen sie doch von einer starken inneren Beteiligung des Autors. So gibt die Missa pastoralis mit ihren Anlehnungen an Hirtenmusik eine ebenso schlichte wie integre Frömmigkeit zu erkennen, während Vanhal auf der anderen Seite in einem elaborierten Orchestersatz dokumentiert, wie ernst er die Gattung der Messe nimmt. Sowohl dem Tonfal als auch den technischen Anforderungen dieser Musik werden Uwe Grodd, die neuseeländischen Tower Voices und das kanadische Aradia Ensemble in höchstem Masse gerecht. Das Barockorchester spielt mit hohem Elan und grosser Freude an der Detailgestaltung, der Chor entwirft ein homogenes, fülliges und zugleich transparentes Klangbild, und auch die vier Vokalsolisten fügen sich in Grodds Konzept einer geschmeidigen, federnden Interpretation sehr gut ein. Einmal mehr wird deutlich, dass es bei Vanhal noch viel Schönes zu entdecken gibt.

Matthias Hengelbrock, Klassik Heute Nov 2001

Vanhal's Pastoral Mass has a delightfully lyrical cantabile feeling, which gives the music a warmth and Arcadian simplicity that is very beguiling. Not all the solo contributions are absolutely secure, especially when two female voices are combined, but the choral response is very persuasive and the result is most rewarding. The Missa solemnis is rather more conventional, but Vanhal's setting is still richly enjoyable with the Bendictus and Agnus Dei particularly lovely. And he always makes the most of his 'Amens'. The spacious recording adds to one's enjoyment, and any minor reservations are swept aside when the disc is so inexpensive.
                                    *** Penguin Guide to CDs 2002

Maestro Grodd, who won a Cannes Classical Award for a previous recording of Vanhal's symphonies, has an uncanny knack for pacing that keeps the music moving at exactly the right speed, and he pays attention to every detail without sacrificing the whole. The recording is close yet properly balanced. At the low Naxos price, it is a must-have item.
                                    Rad Bennett Schwann, Europe Jazz & Classical October 2001

During the 18th Century, few composers wrote simply for their own pleasure. The creation of a serenade, symphony, concerto, or mass was largely undertaken for a specific court function, civic event, or liturgical festival, and therefore was either a money-making process or an act to discharge the professional responsibilities associated with the composer's musical affiliation.
It is understandable why a composer whose responsibilities included the composition of sacred music for the court chapel would duce such works, but why would a composer such as Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813), who held no liturgical post in his maturity,write over four dozen masses, not to mention numerous shorter works such as motets and responses? Could it be piety, penitence, or perhaps even religious zeal? At least one of the masses written by this exceptionally gifted contemporary of Joseph Haydn was composed for the obsequies of Vanhal's father, and others may have been written for funerals or memorial services for friends, but the lion's share of Vanhal's works in the genre appear to have no practical basis. Vanhal did have close associations with a number of monastic foundations, including the one at Göttweig, and it is possible that they sometimes commissioned works from him.
The Pastoralis Mass is heir to a tradition of hirtenmusik, or pastoral music, that can be traced to 17th Century Italy where a number of composers, including Corelli, created a genre suitable for performance at Christmas Eve services. The pastoral style is characterized by simplicity and rustic charm. Two of its most obvious devices are the dudelsack-like drone bass and what can best be termed a yodeling melodic pattern. As for the Missa Solemnis, it was written sometime before 1778, the year a copy was acquired by the Göttweig monastery. This work was quite popular also, if we can judge by the dozen copies that have been preserved at various locations around Europe. Naxos and its corporate partner, the music publishing house of Artaria Editions, have acquainted the uninitiated with many lovely and unjustly neglected masterpieces of Western music, especially 18th Century symphonies and concertos. With this release, a sew series is inaugurated that will include liturgical music of Mozart's friend, Joseph Eybler, and the 1781 version of the Stabat Mater by Boccherini. This initial offering has excellent singing and playing. TOWER Voices New Zealand produces a rich, robust sound that is both dramatic and agile enough to communicate the textual message and dance with vigor in the fugal sections. The soloists and period instruments are also excellent, conductor Uwe Grodd pulling things together with a master's touch.
                                    Carter, American Record Guide September/October 2001

... On croirait entendre une musique signée Haydn pour l'ingéniosité de l'écriture, revue et corrigée par Cimarosa (celui du Requiem) pour la beauté et l'efficacité des thèmes, avec une pointe de spiritualité et d'élégance toutes mozartiennes... ... pas de voix chichiteuses, d'articulations en dentelles, de phrases aériens, de dynamiques subtiles ; pas d'instruments anciens non plus, mais une approche spontanée, toute musicale, digne de cette étonnante nouveauté
                                    ffff (highest rating)
                                    X Lacavelerie Telerama France 29 September 2001

Finally (sfx: drum roll) first place in the The Top Five of 2001 has been reserved for the Naxos world premiere recording of two masses by Haydn's contemporary, Johann Baptist Wanhal. Committed performers, scrupulous scholarship, and unerring musicianship in equipoise. In closing, I will steal a quote from Schumann and apply it to Wanhal: 'Hats off, gentlemen! A genius!'
                                    Robert Emmett, Fanfare September 2001

Under Uwe Grodd the combined Canadian/New Zealand forces give a very fair idea of this attractive music...If you're attuned to Austrian sacred music of the period and fancy a change from Mozart's and Haydn's early Masses, this disc could well be the answer.
                                    Richard Wigmore, BBC Music Magazine August 2001

Agreeably varied and attractive introduction to the multifarious Masses of Vanhal...The performances serve this music well. Uwe Grodd chooses his tempos wisely and finds the right mood for each section, be it uplifting of somber, sunny or dark, to which his choir and period-instrument orchestra respond willingly and competently.
                                    Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone July 2001

World premiere recordings of Austro-Hungarian composer Johan Baptist Vanhal's (1739-1813) Missa Pastoralis in G major and Missa Solemnis in C major. These are works of considerable Mozartian/Haydnesque charm and interest, newly edited by Naxos-owned Artaria Editions. The music was recorded in a New Zealand cathedral during the 2000 International Chamber Music Festival with Canadian soloists Mary Enid Haines, Stephen Pitkanen, Colin Ainsworth, and Nina Scott Stoddart. ...Canada's Aradia Ensemble offers good, clean, characterful accompaniment. The Tower Voices New Zealand chamber choir is firm, full, and steady. The cathedral acoustics are natural and close. Notes in English, French, Spanish. Texts in Latin and English.
                                    Philip Anson, La Scena Musicale

Johann Baptist Vanhal was probably the first musician to earn a living entirely from composing. Born to a peasant family in Bohemia in 1739, his output was prolific, with more than 1300 scores attributed to him. Even so it is strange to find around 95 sacred works from a composer who never held a major church appointment. Known to have composed around fifty settings of the Catholic Mass, the Missa Solemnis was composed in 1778, and came four years before the Missa Pastoralis. Both works show an advanced use of instruments, his orchestra consisting of a large body of strings, together with two oboes, two trumpets, timpani and continuo organ. Each work largely reflects its title, the resulting composition standing in favourable comparison with the sacred music of Haydn and Mozart. They are performed by Canada's Aradia Ensemble, their piquant tone recalling European period instrument performances twenty and more years ago. The thirty-two singers of TOWER Voices come from New Zealand, and are in their third season singing together. They respond with a fresh and vitalising quality to the German-born conductor, Uwe Grodd, whose previous Vanhal release received a major prize at last year's prestigious Cannes Classical Awards. With highly enjoyable soloists and excellent recording quality, he surely has another winner on offer
                                    David Denton
 
IGNAZ PLEYEL (1757-1831)
Symphony in C major Ben128
Symphony in F minor Ben138
Symphony in C minor Ben121

Capella Istropolitana
Uwe Grodd, conductor


NAXOS 8.554696

Top 60 Discs of 2000
Critics' choice of the highlights of the recording year
Pleyel was Haydn's pupil and a huge success at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries. He learned his trade well and these symphonies, well played and recorded, are witness of Pleyel's professionalism, charm and efficiency. When Pleyel was studying with Haydn, the latter was in the midst of his so-called 'Sturm und Drang' period and trac4es of this style are reflected in Pleyel's music. Naxos's series is going from strength to strength.

HC Robbins Landon, BBC Music Magazine December 2000



SYMPHONIES BY A LARGELY UNKNOWN HAYDN PUPIL WHO, ON THIS DISTINCTIVE EVIDENCE, DESERVES FAR WIDER CURRENCY
This admirable series from Naxos continues to give us recordings of classical symphonies, a context for the great achievements of Haydn and Mozart. This time it is Ignace Pleyel Austrian-born but remembered more for what he later did in Paris (as instrument maker and publisher - he invented the miniature score) than for his music. A pity, because it's very good. Pleyel was a Haydn pupil and learnt his lessons well, on this evidence. He was criticized then, and still is now, as derivative; but although he uses various of Haydn's devices, the musical personality that comes through is to my mind quite individual.
The earliest of the symphonies, Ben121 of 1778, is a substantial piece, nearly half-an-hour long, with a solemn and dramatic slow introduc-tion and a first movement of splendid energy and drive, in triple metre, with lots of noise from the trumpets and drums, and interesting thematic treatment and modulations in the development. The spacious finale is another big and energetic piece. There is a lot to enjoy in the other sym-phonies, too, both of them from 1786 and notice ably more classical in tone. Try, for example, the vivacious opening movement of the C major work, or its Adagio, an eloquent piece with hints of darkness, or the finale with its busy, oddly twisty theme; or in the F minor work the urgent first movement, with its persistent figures and its fiery development, or the expressive Andante, where the accompanying textures are so tellingly managed. Note, too, the ways Pleyel teases the ear, prolonging phrases, moving in unexpected directions, and so on.
Well, it isn't Haydn, but there's room for others, and Pleyel is well worth a hearing. These modern-instrument performances are well judged and have plenty of vitality and sensitively chosen tempos, and the Bratislava group play with skill. There is an excellent, informative note by the New Zealand scholar, Allan Badley.

Stanley Sadie, Gramophone January 2001


De Pleyel, principal élève de Haydn à l'exception de Beethoven, on ne disposait jusqu'ici que d'un seul CD consacré à ses symphonies: trois oeuvres tardives (1791, 1803 et 1804) par les London Mozart Players et Matthias Bamert (Chandos).
Uwe Grodd est allé chercher des partitions plus anciennes. La Symphonie en ut majeur B. 121 (seule son introduction lente utilise I'ut mineur) est même la toute première de Pleyel. Il la composa en 1778, juste après avoir échappé à la tutelle de Haydn, et elle fut éditée quelques années plus tard chez Artaria et lmbault, alors que la réputation de son auteur était à son zénith. Comme la Symphonie B. 128 de 1786, dans la même tonalité, elle fait usage des trumpettes et des timbales. Son premier mouvement s'inspire de celui de la Symphonie n.60 - Le Distrait (1774) et de L'ouverture d'Il Ritorno di Tobia (1775) de Haydn, mais la comme ailleurs, il ne s'agit pas de citations au sens propre (le Minuetto est néanmoins dangereusement proche de celui de la Symphonie n.69 - Laudon ). Tous les morceaux cités ont en commun la tonalité d'ut majeur ! Techniques de langage et atmosphères sont en revanche constamment haydniennes, ou presque, ce qui ne fait pas disparaître pour autant les différences entre talent et génie. Haydn étant difficile à imiter avec bonheur, on a là un cas unique, et à l'audition, on se demande s'il ne va pas surgir en personne !
La Symphonie en fa mineur B. 138 de 1786 n'est pas moins intéressante. On comprend l'énorme popularité de Pleyel dans les années 1780 et 1790, mais aussi les raisons de son déclin ultérieur. Reste une réalisation précieuse et interpretée avec les nuances et l'énergie nécessaires.
Rappelons que Pleyel a également composé des quatours à cordes: il fut même le premier, juste avant Mozart, a en dédier à Haydn. On aimerait les connaître.

Marc Vignal


It was Pleyel who gave the series of London concerts to rival Haydn and Solomon in 1792. He later settled in Paris, founding the celebrated Playel piano factory. The earliest of the three symphonies on the Naxos disc was composed in 1778, when the composer was twenty-one; it is actually in C major but has a dramatic C minor introduction leading to a very lively allegro with trumpets and drums lacing the tuttis. The Adagio is rather fine, with horns echoing the string theme, but the trumpets and drums return in the bold minuet and add zest to a spirited moto perpetuo finale.
The other two symphonies date from 1786 and follow a similar pattern, but Pleyel's minor-key works are the most strikingly inventive, and the F minor has an Andante grazioso of Boccherinian charm, using gently muted strings against a persistent repeated accompanying figure in the second violins. The fast Minuet with its Laendler-like Trio is no less individual. The performances from the excellent Capella Istopolitana are crisply stylish, expressively persuasive, and very well recorded.

*** Penguin Guide to CDs 2002

Pleyel: Sinfonías

Uno de los aspectos más loables del sello Naxos - del cual acaba de llegar una nueva importación a la Feria del Disco- es su interés por registrar música de los compositores menos conocidos. El director de orquesta Uwe Grodd fue premiado con el Cannes Classical Award 2000 a la mejor grabación orquestal del siglo XVIII por su disco con sinfonías de J.B. Vanhal.

En este volumen, Grodd sigue por la misma senda, dedicándose esta vez a las sinfonías del austríaco Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831), otro músico opacado por los genios de Haydn y Mozart.

Los amantes del clasicismo sabrán disfrutar de la música compuesta por Pleyel, que no esconde las influencias de su maestro Haydn, pero que cuenta con una energía y buen estilo muy propios. La Capella Istropolitana se esmera bajo las órdenes de Grodd, consiguiendo un disco muy recomendable.

Pablo Arce C. - La Musica Emol

 

 
Christian CANNABICH
Symphonies Nos. 47-52 (1772)

Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Uwe Grodd

Naxos 8.554340
Excerpt of  Uwe Grodd ’s recording of Symphonies by Christian Cannabich in Phil Grabsky’s new documentary called “In search of Mozart”
This edition was constituted from a copy of the one published by Gotz in Mannheim in 1772 and held in the Music Department of the Municipal Museum of Bologna. Alan Badley concludes his introduction with a statement of fundamental importance: 'If Mozart acquired his great technical virtuosity through his careful study and profound appreciation of Haydn's works, his orchestral sound and the sensuousness of much of his writing owe much to the works of his friend Christian Cannabich.'
This is evident from one end to the other of this utterly brilliant performance from conductor Uwe Grodd who, while paying meticulous attention to the finishing touches of the musical line, brings out its subtle shades of colour and joie de vivre. The impetuous elegance of the fast movements (for example, the initial Allegro of Symphony No 48); the pervasive gracefulness of the slow movements - all of them scored for strings alone, and veritable repositories of melody; the rich and inspired use of colour in the delicious orchestral writing, seized upon with obvious enjoyment by these committed performers - all of these are forceful reminders that this Cannabich is a 'great minor master'.
                                    Répertoire no. 132, February 2000, p43

Christian Cannabich was born and made his career in Mannheim, where in 1774 he became conductor of what at that time was the most celebrated orchestra in Europe. Cannabich was to be described by Mozart as the finest conductor he had ever encountered, but was also a prolific and accomplished, if not always individual, symphonist. His six works published in 1772 as Op. 10 are each in three movements and effectively scored for flutes (or oboes), and horns. Opening movements are conventional, but the expressively gracious slow movements and lively finales more than compensate, and very soon we encounter the famous Mannheim 'crescendo' (the opening movement of No. 51 provides a very striking example). There are even hints of Mozart. The performances are lively, stylish and well-recorded.
                                    *** Penguin Guide to CDs 2002

 
VANHAL
Selected Symphonies Vol. 1
Sinfonia in A major (Bryan A9)
Sinfonia in C major (Bryan C3)
Sinfonia in D major (Bryan D17)
Sinfonia in C major 'Comista' (Bryan C11)

Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Uwe Grodd

Naxos 8.554341

Winner of the "Best 18th Century Orchestral Recording" category at the Cannes Classical Awards 2000 

Sample:  
Sinfonia in A major
   03 - Tempo di primo (Excerpt from the beginning - Download approx. 1,6 MB/ wma) 
Sinfonia in D major
   02 - Adagio molto (Excerpt from the beginning - Download approx. 1,3 MB/ wma

 

It is not normally thought advisable to play a simple forte as a fortissimo; and neither should it be permissible to play music written in the brilliant style 'brilliantissimo'. That however is the fate frequently allotted by both conductors and orchestras to the symphonic compositions of Vanhal. This particular disc is an exception, and a happy one. For it is indeed noticeable that an element of moderation - or the exercise of sound judgment - in the most virtuosic passages results in the appearance of profound links between the qualities of melancholy and vigour which share Vanhal's works between them. Thus in the A9 Symphony a mysterious-sounding cello theme runs throughout the whole of second movement: when the allegro returns we now hear that it is marked by that same sense of mystery.
The entire disc reveals artists who have regard for such profound considerations - a regard not for the manner, but for the meaning. A thousand subtleties, a thousand ambiguities are thus brought to light, - to what result? Simply, that one listens better, and that one listens again. With the gratitude which is its due let us welcome a disc which is authentically and healthily 'Vanhalian', and which maintains at its high level the series The 18th Century Symphony.
                                    Diapason Paris no 465, December 1999, pp102/104

Don't worry if you haven't heard of Johann Vanhal. Even though he was one of the most successful composers residing in Vienna during the latter half of the 18th century, he had the misfortune -as far as history is concerned- of choosing to practice his art at the same time and place as Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. What's even the most competent composer to do under these circumstances, except hope that someday his music will fall into the hands of ardent supporters who also happen to conduct orchestras and run record labels? Although Vanhal may not have opted to wait 200 years for this to happen, we are indeed fortunate to have access to a growing recorded catalog of Vanhal's orchestral and vocal music -he wrote more than 700 instrumental works and at least 200 sacred compositions- and this series from Naxos promises to bring us closer than ever to this really fine, seriously underappreciated master of symphonic form and style.
Yes, the music sounds like Mozart and Haydn, but you also hear the points of departure from these two geniuses, where Vanhal reveals that although he's very good, he's not quite in same class as his exalted contemporaries. Still, there are many wonderful moments, movements, themes, and developmental ideas in these four symphonies that make for productive, happy listening. And the Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia is totally in tune and in touch with this bright, vigorous, optimistic music. There's a terrific, very beautiful, unexpected cello solo in the middle of the A major Symphony that, along with an unusual, quiet ending, shows Vanhal at his most inspired and original. We know that music in 18th-century Vienna wasn't all Mozart, and this program reminds us that even among the second-tier composers, audiences back then had it pretty darn good.
                                    David Vernier

Even among the many new discs of forgotten music by Mozart's contemporaries this Naxos issue stands out. Born in Bohemia in 1739 of peasant stock, Johann Baptist Vanhal was one of the most successful composers in Vienna, producing over 1300 compositions in many genres. These four compact symphonies, representing different periods of his career, are all colourful and inventive, often bringing surprises that defy the conventions of the time. The Sinfonia's lively performance under Uwe Grodd make one look forward to further issues of Vanhal's music.

 

(Highly Recommended) The Guardian October 1999

The classical symphony is so dominated by the twin figures of Haydn & Mozart that itis all too easy to overlook the considerable contributions which were made by many lesser figures. The Naxos label is doing a great service by bringing to light many of these works in its "18th Century Symphony" series. It now launches a survey of the symphonies of the Bohemian composer Johann Baptist Vanhal with four highly spirited, engaging pieces dating from 1760-1780 that are the equal of Haydn's contemporary efforts. These are witty, original pieces and it's easy to see why Imperial Vienna took them immediately to its heart. Uwe Grodd and the very fine Hungarian players of the Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia make a strong case for them.
                                    The Independent September 1999

Among the many new discs of forgotten music by Mozart's contemporaries this Naxos issue stands out. These four compact symphonies are all winningly colourful and inventive, often bringing surprises that defy the conventions of the time. The Esterházy Sinfonia under Uwe Grodd give attractively lively performances with some stylish solo work vividly recorded.
                                    *** Penguin Guide to CDs 2002

 

 
DITTERSDORF
Sinfonia in D minor
Sinfonia in F major
Sinfonia in G minor

Failoni Orchestra
Uwe Grodd

Naxos 8.553974
These are wonderful works, charmingly subversive and orchestrated with an easy flair, not without some surprising depth in the minor-mode works. With incisive and stylish performances by Grodd and the Failoni Orchestra, well recorded, this is a fine addition to the discography of a still somewhat underrated composer.
                                    Fanfare March/April 1999

Once again Uwe Grodd leads his Budapest players in sparkling performances of three Dittersdorf symphonies ... If you want to explore the Dittersdorf symphonies, this series is ideal.
                                    American Record Guide March/April 1999

... the atmosphere - Sturm und Drang - of the first movement of the D minor, the lightness and transparency of the F major and the exciting exuberance of the vast G minor symphony are remarkably enhanced by an ensemble which makes us more and more aware of a creative mind of the highest stature ...
                                    Diapason Compact Discs Paris, October 1998

The three works collected here - far more than the later and more famous programmatic symphonies based on Ovid - show Dittersdorf at his most inventive, learning and absorbing influences from both Haydn and Mozart. The F major Symphony is the earliest here, probably dating from the early 176os, and a very personable little work it is, opening with a pertly succinct theme which soon expands in a characteristic Mannheim crescendo; the brie fAndante has comparable charm, and after an elegant Minuet featuring the horns, they return exuberantly to lead the finale.
The G minor Symphony, which comes from the close of the same decade, is altogether more turbulent. It must have been highly regarded in its day, for the manuscript survives in a number of copies and is listed in three major publisher's catalogues of the Lime. The symphony is contemporary with the beginning of Haydn's Sturm und Drang period, with which it has much in common. The use of the violins and (again) the horns in the first movement is individual and striking; the fine, flowing Andante might easily be mistaken for Haydn, and there is a first class Minuet with the flute leading the Trio. But it is the remarkable finale which sets the seal on the work's originality by cyclically returning to the bold opening theme of the first movement with even greater thrust, with a graceful answering passage from the violins. Yet another surprise is in store when, just before the coda, the key suddenly changes to a sunny G major, and the mood lightens before a final satisfyingly bold statement of the opening theme.
The D minor Symphony dates from the mid to late 1770S and its warmly lyrical opening Adagio immediately coaxes the ear with.just a hint of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, although its mood is darker. The following Allegro is more positively classical, its character Mozartian, but the witty Minuet with its chirruping rhythms is closer to Haydn, whose spirit also dominates the genial finale. The performances here are first class in every way, the playing polished, responsive and vigorous, and the recording is excellent. This is an easy first choice among the available discs of Dittersdorf symphonies.
                                    *** Penguin Guide to CDs 2002

... Uwe Grodd's performances are impeccably paced and reveal a profound understanding of Dittersdorf's subtle musical personality. Once again, the ever-resourceful team of Artaria Editions and Naxos blaze a trail for the rest of the world to follow.
                                    OPUSCDS.COM Classical Review November 1999

 

 
DITTERSDORF
The Delirium of Composers
The Battle of the Human Passions
In the Taste of Five Nations

Failoni Orchestra
Uwe Grodd

Naxos 8.553975
The prolific but largely neglected Dittersdorf has long been deserving of greater attention as these scintillating performances of bright and ebullient sinfonias delightfully demonstrate. The slick quicksilver inventiveness and unabashed wit recommends itself immensely when delivered, as here, with such relishable idiomatic brio.
                                    Gramophone December 1998

... the whole work is skillfully contoured and Uwe Grodd gives just the type of firm, driving reading that enhances the basic seriousness of the music ... he pays careful attention to dynamic changes, is stylish over grace notes, and draws accurate and sensitive playing from the orchestra.
                                    HiFi News London, November 1998

Of these three symphonies, descriptive of human moods rather than programmatic, the A minor, concerned with the delirium of the composer, is obviously not meant to be taken too seriously. Written in the mid 1770s, it opens a little nervily and very much in the minor mode, but its main ideas are engagingly contrasted and in the more extrovert Andantino the rhythmic feeling is lively but firmly controlled. The canonic Minuet leads to a flowing Trio which reminds us of the work's sobriquet with a witty, sudden displaced accent; but the energetic finale, if not predictable, dispels any doubts about the composer's peace of mind.
The D major Battle of the Human Passions of 1771, with its seven movements, is more of a suite than a symphony. Opening with a portentous 'Halleluija' maestoso ('Pride'), it includes a 'Mad' (but not very mad) Minuet for strings alone, and depicts a tender humility, contentment, a very positive constancy, and a touching melancholia. The finale is the epitome of vivacity, yet with mercurial mood changes.
The Sinfonia of Five Nations - Germany, Italy (unflatteringly crude), France, England, and (surprisingly) Turkey - dates from around 1766 and is really another suite, given its variety by rhythm as much as melody. Easily the best movement is the finale, boisterous and elegant by turns. Excellent performances throughout - Iwe Grodd is a persuasive exponent - and good recording; but, apart from the ingenious A minor Symphony, musically this is far less rewarding than the companion triptych of untitled symphonies below.
                                    *** Penguin Guide to CDs 2002

 

Penguin Guide to Compact Discs 2004/ 05

Johann Nepomuk Hummel 
Missa Solemnis in C; Te Deum
Naxos  8.557193. 
Wright, McKendree-Wright, Power, Griffiths, Tower Voices, New Zealand SO, Grodd.   

Key recording - suitable as a basis for a collection. 
*** An outstanding performance and recording in every way. 

"Following Richard Hickox's brilliant Chandos issue of two Hummel Masses (Chan. 0681 - see our main volume) comes more evidence of the vigour that this neglected composer brought to his choral works. On the recommendation of Haydn he was carrying on the tradition of writing annual Masses for Prince Esterházy, demonstrating what a sense of drama he had in illustrating the liturgy, masterly in counterpoint and orchestration, never resorting to note-spinning, as he often does in his keyboard writing. Here with New Zealand forces, including the brilliant professional chamber choir, Tower Voices, we have the longest of Hummel's five Masses in coupling with an electrifying setting of the Te Deum. Both were written in 1806, and one is constantly reminded that this was the period of the Napoleonic wars, when each of these works so often features martial music with fanfares, trumpets and drums. Unlike most Anglican settings, this Te Deum ends on a grand fortissimo. A thrilling issue, all the more recommendable at super-bargain price.

March, Ivan; Greenfield, Edward & Layton, Robert. 2004. 
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs, Yearbook 2004/ 5. London: Penguin Books.

 

 
Penguin Guide to Compact Discs 2002 Editions
18 Stars for 6 Recordings with Uwe Grodd
(3 stars maximum rating )

JOHANN BAPTIST VANHAL
Symphonies
in A, Bryan:A9; in C, Bryan:C3;
in C, Bryan:C11; in D, Bryan:D17


(BB) *** Naxos 8.554341
Esterházy Sinfonia, Grodd.

Among the many new discs of forgotten music by Mozart's contemporaries this Naxos issue stands out. These four compact symphonies are all winningly colourful and inventive, often bringing surprises that defy the conventions of the time. The Esterházy Sinfonia under Uwe Grodd give attractively lively performances with some stylish solo work vividly recorded.

JOHANN BAPTIST VANHAL
Missa pastoralis in G;
Missa solemnis in
C.
(N) (BB) *** Naxos 8.555080
Haines, Ainsworth, Pitkanen, Tower Voices, New Zealand Arcadia Ens.,Grodd.

Vanhal's Pastoral Mass has a delightfully lyrical cantabile feeling, which gives the music a warmth and Arcadian simplicity that is very beguiling. Not all the solo contributions are absolutely secure, especially when two female voices are combined, but the choral response is very persuasive and the result is most rewarding. The Missa solemnis is rather more conventional, but Vanhal's setting is still richly enjoyable with the Bendictus and Agnus Dei particularly lovely. And he always makes the most of his 'Amens'. The spacious recording adds to one's enjoyment, and any minor reservations are swept aside when the disc is so inexpensive.

JOHANN CHSRISTIAN CANNABICH (1731-98)
Symphonies Op. 10/1-6
Nos. 47 in G: 48 in B flat; 49 in F;
50 in D min.; 51 in D; 52 in E


(N) (B) *** Naxos 8.554340
Nicolaus Esterházy Sinf., Grodd.

Christian Cannabich was born and made his career in Mannheim, where in 1774 he became conductor of what at that time was the most celebrated orchestra in Europe. Cannabich was to be described by Mozart as the finest conductor he had ever encountered, but was also a prolific and accomplished, if not always individual, symphonist. His six works published in 1772 as Op. 10 are each in three movements and effectively scored for flutes (or oboes), and horns. Opening movements are conventional, but the expressively gracious slow movements and lively finales more than compensate, and very soon we encounter the famous Mannheim 'crescendo' (the opening movement of No. 51 provides a very striking example). There are even hints of Mozart. The performances are lively, stylish and well-recorded.

CARL DITTERS VON DITTERSDORF
Symphonies
in A min (Il delirio delli compositori, ossia Il gusto d'oggidi) (Grave a2);
in A (Sinfonia nazionale nel gusto di cinque nazioni) (Grave A10);
in D (Il Combattimento delle passioni umani) (Gray D16).

(N) (BB) *** Naxos 8.553975
Failoni 0, Grodd.


Of these three symphonies, descriptive of human moods rather than programmatic, the A minor, concerned with the delirium of the composer, is obviously not meant to be taken too seriously. Written in the mid 1770s, it opens a little nervily and very much in the minor mode, but its main ideas are engagingly contrasted and in the more extrovert Andantino the rhythmic feeling is lively but firmly controlled. The canonic Minuet leads to a flowing Trio which reminds us of the work's sobriquet with a witty, sudden displaced accent; but the energetic finale, if not predictable, dispels any doubts about the composer's peace of mind.
The D major Battle of the Human Passions of 1771, with its seven movements, is more of a suite than a symphony. Opening with a portentous 'Halleluija' maestoso ('Pride'), it includes a 'Mad' (but not very mad) Minuet for strings alone, and depicts a tender humility, contentment, a very positive constancy, and a touching melancholia. The finale is the epitome of vivacity, yet with mercurial mood changes.
The Sinfonia of Five Nations - Germany, Italy (unflatteringly crude), France, England, and (surprisingly) Turkey - dates from around 1766 and is really another suite, given its variety by rhythm as much as melody. Easily the best movement is the finale, boisterous and elegant by turns. Excellent performances throughout - Iwe Grodd is a persuasive exponent - and good recording; but, apart from the ingenious A minor Symphony, musically this is far less rewarding than the companion triptych of untitled symphonies below.

CARL DITTERS VON DITTERSDORF
Symphonies
in D mm. (Grave d1); F (Grave F7); G min (Grave g1).

(N) (BB) *** Naxos 8.553974
Failon; 0, Grodd.


The three works collected here - far more than the later and more famous programmatic symphonies based on Ovid - show Dittersdorf at his most inventive, learning and absorbing influences from both Haydn and Mozart. The F major Symphony is the earliest here, probably dating from the early 176os, and a very personable little work it is, opening with a pertly succinct theme which soon expands in a characteristic Mannheim crescendo; the brief Andante has comparable charm, and after an elegant Minuet featuring the horns, they return exuberantly to lead the finale.
The G minor Symphony, which comes from the close of the same decade, is altogether more turbulent. It must have been highly regarded in its day, for the manuscript survives in a number of copies and is listed in three major publisher's catalogues of the Lime. The symphony is contemporary with the beginning of Haydn's Sturm und Drang period, with which it has much in common. The use of the violins and (again) the horns in the first movement is individual and striking; the fine, flowing Andante might easily be mistaken for Haydn, and there is a first class Minuet with the flute leading the Trio. But it is the remarkable finale which sets the seal on the work's originality by cyclically returning to the bold opening theme of the first movement with even greater thrust, with a graceful answering passage from the violins. Yet another surprise is in store when, just before the coda, the key suddenly changes to a sunny G major, and the mood lightens before a final satisfyingly bold statement of the opening theme.
The D minor Symphony dates from the mid to late 1770S and its warmly lyrical opening Adagio immediately coaxes the ear with.just a hint of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, although its mood is darker. The following Allegro is more positively classical, its character Mozartian, but the witty Minuet with its chirruping rhythms is closer to Haydn, whose spirit also dominates the genial finale. The performances here are first class in every way, the playing polished, responsive and vigorous, and the recording is excellent. This is an easy first choice among the available discs of Dittersdorf symphonies.

IGNAZ PLEYEL (1757 - 1831)
Symphonies
in C min (Ben 121); C (Ben 128); F min (Ben 138).

(N) (BB) *** Naxos 8.554696
Capella stropolitana, Grodd.


It was Pleyel who gave the series of London concerts to rival Haydn and Solomon in 1792. He later settled in Paris, founding the celebrated Playel piano factory. The earliest of the three symphonies on the Naxos disc was composed in 1778, when the composer was twenty-one; it is actually in C major but has a dramatic C minor introduction leading to a very lively allegro with trumpets and drums lacing the tuttis. The Adagio is rather fine, with horns echoing the string theme, but the trumpets and drums return in the bold minuet and add zest to a spirited moto perpetuo finale.
The other two symphonies date from 1786 and follow a similar pattern, but Pleyel's minor-key works are the most strikingly inventive, and the F minor has an Andante grazioso of Boccherinian charm, using gently muted strings against a persistent repeated accompanying figure in the second violins. The fast Minuet with its Laendler-like Trio is no less individual. The performances from the excellent Capella Istopolitana are crisply stylish, expressively persuasive, and very well recorded.
  
Discover Music of the Classical Era

Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf: Sinfonia in A minor
"The Delirium of the Composers": IV. Presto (non troppo)


Failoni Chamber Orchestra, Budapest

Naxos 8.558180-81
The World of the 18th Century Symphony

Cannabich: Symphony No 50 in D minor
Dittersdorf: Symphony in G minor
Vanhal: Symphony in D major


Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Failoni Orchestra

Naxos 8.554761


Beethoven's time
Highlights from the International Music Festival NZ 2001
F. Kuhlau: Grand Sonate in G Minor for flute and piano, Op 83

Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Uwe Grodd, flute
Matteo Napoli, piano

Naxos 8.55588
3

 

 
Magnificat
Highlights from the International Chamber Music Festival 2000
Includes:
Ignaz Pleyel: Symphony in C minor (1st mvt.)
Vanhal: Sinfonia in C 'Comista' (1st mvt.)

Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Capella Istropolitana
Uwe Grodd

Naxos 8.555273 

Minuetto
Highlights from the International Chamber Music Festival 1999
Vanhal: Sinfonia in A
Dittersdorf: Sinfonia in F
Cannabich: Sinfonia in G
Dittersdorf: Sinfonia Nazionale (finale)

Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Failoni Orchestra
Uwe Grodd

Naxos 8.554662
Minuetto is a CD of a rather different kind. Compiled as a souvenir of the 1999 International Chamber Music Festival, Minuetto's unique quality comes from its fascinating combination of familiar and unfamiliar 18th-century music. The CD spent a remarkable twelve weeks in the Concert FM Classical Top Ten in New Zealand, based on nationwide retail sales, and has enjoyed an enormous amount of air time. Minuetto has succeeded in introducing a new and very large audience to the fascinating world that Artaria Editions and Naxos is charting.

 

 

Naxos - Artaria Sampler includes:

Johann Nepomuk Hummel
The Deum in D

Naxos 8.554777/ AE 419

Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Missa Solemnis in C - Agnus Dei 


Naxos 8.554777/ AE 412

 

  
Artaria Editions 2002 CD Excerpts

Includes:
Vanhal: Missa Solemnis in C - Kyrie
Dittersdorf: Sinfonia in Dminor - Grave
Vanhal: Sinfonia in G - Allegro
Pleyel: Sinfonia in D - Allegro
Aradia Baroque Ensemble
Tower Voices New Zealand
Cappella Istropolitana
Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Failoni Orchestra
Uwe Grodd

 

Artaria Editions 1998 CD Excerpts
Highlights from the International Chamber Music Festival 2000
Includes:
Dittersdorf: Sinfonia in G minor - Allegro molto
Dittersdorf: Sinfonia in D - Il Malinconico
Dittersdorf:: Sinfonia in A - Finale
Cannabich: Sinfonia in F - Allegro Spiritoso
Vanhal: Sinfonia in D - Allegro con brio

Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Failoni Orchestra
Uwe Grodd

 

2004 Graduation Concert CD

The 2004 Graduation Concert features the University Singers and Campus Cantoris, and the University Orchestra, conducted by Uwe Grodd.

 

The CD features the following pieces:

Jacob Handel − Alleluia: Cantate Domino
James Tibbles, organ

Brahms − Gaudeamus igitur

Verdi − Merce dilette amiche
Soloist: Sarah Paek, soprano

Handel − My heart is inditing (Adonte - Allegro)

W A Mozart − Piano Concerto in G (3rd movement)
Soloist: John Chen, piano

Leonie Holmes − Frond (world premiere)

Howard Shore − Lord of The Rings Symphony Part II
Soloists: Katrina Leaf, Sarah McCallum

Orff − Oh Fortuna from "Carmina Burana"

 

 
2003 Graduation Concert CD

The 2003 Graduation Concert features the University Singers and Campus Cantoris, and the University Orchestra, conducted by Uwe Grodd.

 

The CD features the following pieces:

George Frideric Handel − The King Shall Rejoice

Franz Doppler − "Rigoletto" Fantasy
Flutists: Solveig Roenningen and Grace Kim

Léo Delibes - Flower Duet from "Lakme"
Sopranos: Woo Young Coi, Sarah Paek

Llewelyn Jones − Maori Rhapsody

Gareth Farr − Tirohia atu nei
Conductor: Karen Grylls

Pablo Sarasate - "Carmen" Fantasy
Violinist: Simone Roggen

Johannes Brahms − Gaudeamus Igitur from "Academic Festival Overture"

 

 
2002 Graduation Concert CD

The 2002 Graduation Concert features the University Singers and Campus Cantoris, and the University Orchestra, conducted by Uwe Grodd.

Carl Orff − O Fortuna from Carmina Burana

Gareth Farr − Orakau
Baritone: Robert Wiremu

Joseph Haydn - Te Deum

Alan Hovhaness − Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints
Xylophonist: Lenny Sakofsky

Gabriel Fauré − Elégie
Cellist: Victoria Simonsen

Maurice Ravel - Danse Générale from Daphnis and Chloe

Johannes Brahms − Gaudeamus Igitur from Academic Festival Overture

 

HAYDN and HOFMANN
Leopold Hofman - Concerto for Flute D major
Joseph Haydn - Concerto for Harpsichord D major Hob XVIII:II

University of Auckland Orchestra
Elizabeth Hirst (flute)
Rachel Griffiths-Hughes (harpsichord)

Uwe Grodd (conductor)

Recorded in 1996 in the University of Auckland

 

 
New Zealand Choral Music
Includes:
Helen Fisher: Pounamu

Uwe Grodd, flute
Kristen Darragh, alto solo

Kiwi Pacific CD SLD-108
The text and musical ideas in Pounamu deal with the beauty, depth and myth of the New Zealand greenstone. Evocative callings from the flute, (akin to the women's chant welcoming visitors to the marae on the one hand - like the flute solo at the start of John Rimmer's Meeting Place - and yet also fully self-expressive in a small cadenza-like link), required me to search for appropriate sounds to match the atmosphere. A non-traditional way of playing was suggested, and prompted me to enquire with Helen whether she would be happy for me to include some quartertone colours. This effect is produced like the baroque trill in the 18th century with 'finger vibrato' when a key not involved in producing the sound is moved like a trill in order to create a quartertone, or usually less. It sounds like a shimmer on the notes from the existing melody. It is not unlike some of colours and inflections I had the pleasure in hearing in the superb playing of Richard Nunns on the koauau. It had been a rewarding experience to record this work: one reason is that there is hardly any music for this combination (which is perhaps because of the extreme difficulties in intonation and register balance between choir and flute), but first and foremost I felt part of something much bigger then myself or my instrument, my voice playing this music. This feeling maybe greater for me as a European coming to NZ - I don't know - but it deeply moved me.
                                    Uwe Grodd

 

   

 

 
Manukau City Symphony Orchestra

The First Night Concert in the Genesis Energy Theatre