Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
  Classical Music Home > Music News

Artaria Revived: A New Venture In The Recording And Publishing Of 18th-Century Music
J.M. Thomson, May 18, 2000

...Artaria, one of the best-known music publishers of the 18th century and equally renowned in art and maps, rapidly achieved a dominant position in Viennese musical life for their editions of leading classical composers. In 1780, for instance, they issued a set of Haydn's piano sonatas, the first of over three hundred of his works to appear under their imprint. Eventually they became Mozart's principal publishers, issued many Beethoven compositions and those of Gluck, Boccherini and Clementi. They remained active until the second half of the 19th century, when the quality of their publications having declined, they closed in 1858 their assets eventually being taken over by Josef Weinberger.

It is intriguing, therefore, that in Wellington, New Zealand, a city far from European centres, a young, small hi-tech publishing house should revive the name in order to provide a library of scores concentrating on the works of Haydn's major contemporaries, most of them previously unpublished. The new Artaria has come into being through the enthusiasm of its founders, the New Zealand musicologist Dr Allan Badley and Klaus Heymann, Managing Director of HNH International, who funds the enterprise. All of Artaria's editions are destined to be recorded as part of an ambitious series devoted to music of the 18th century, launched recently by Naxos. The first two CDs, performed by the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, directed by Donald Armstrong, which have recently appeared, present a selection of the symphonies and orchestral trios of Johann Stamitz.

The music of this particular era has attracted Allan Badley from the time he first began playing Haydn's keyboard sonatas as a ten year old. "The musical language from the 1750s to the 70s has always intrigued me. It's the basis of the high classical idiom and yet preserves facets of an older tradition not always familiar to modern audiences who grow up on Bach, Handel and Vivaldi", he said. "Composers such as Wagenseil, who brought the galant style to Vienna, were formidable contrapuntalists, but avoided the strict polyphonic forms of their teachers in a search for a new, elegant and 'natural' musical language. Their best works have a freshness and vitality all of their own, and there are many".

As a graduate student a the University of Auckland in the early 1980s he undertook research into the development of the Viennese symphonic style, focusing on the critical decades during the mid-18th century when composers like Wagneseil and Hofmann played a vital role in establishing the structure and syntax of the new genre. Early on, his researches confirmed the view held by most scholars that the Viennese symphony owed a far greater stylistic debt to Neapolitan opera and to a native Austrian tradition than to the highly influential symphonic language of the so-called 'Mannheim School'. "Viennese composers proved highly adept at writing works of great charm and vivacity whose apparent simplicity concealed a wealth of technical subtlety. Among the most strongly individual movements of the Viennese symphonists are the minuets and trios. The easy grace and lilting beauty of many of them are a constant reminder that dance was a vital part of everyday Viennese life. In these works we hear not only the seeds of Haydn's and Mozart's greatness but also of Schubert, Lanner and the Strausses", as Badley observes. "By comparison", he claims, "the renowned Mannheim style is a good deal more flamboyant but is less intimate and at times rather mannered. When we speak of a 'Mannheim style' it's important to remember that most of the fist generation of composers came from Bohemia, as did Johann Stamitz. A homogeneous "Mannheim": idiom emerged more in the second generation, after Stamitz's death, when the orchestra was under the direction of Christian Cannabich. For all the brilliance of the later Mannheim court music Johann Stamitz, who died in 1757, remains for me one of the most fascinating. He was a first-rate composer, highly inventive, and with a remarkably original musical mind".

In 1982 Badley began working for a PhD on the concertos of Leopold Hofmann, spending several years based in Vienna to study original source materials. There are nine works for violin, over twenty for keyboard, eight for cello and a significant number of wind concertos. Artaria aims at publishing and recording the first complete edition of the cello concertos, all of which will appear in the next twelve months. They bear a striking resemblance at times to Boccherini and some may have been written for Joseph Weig, Haydn's principal cellist at Ezsterhaza, who occupied the same position in Hofmann's orchestra at St Peter's in Vienna. Hofmann's twelve unpublished flute concertos will also be an early project, including that in D, usually attributed to Haydn. These very attractive works should find great favour with flautists", said Badley. "The flute quartets and duos should also prove popular: some may even be put to good use by the more enterprising of buskers".

When planning the creation of Artaria Editions, Klaus Heymann decided "there was no point in going ahead half-heartedly", so Naxos established the concept of The 18th-century Symphony soon to be followed by a similar series devoted to the concerto and chamber music. The latter will include, amongst other important works, the complete Boccherini string quartets which an American group with the same name, Artaria, have been working on. They will be published as part of the catalogue. "From a musicologist's point of view it's an absolute dream to have almost instantaneous recordings of new editions with an opportunity to publish the works", said Allan Badley.

Is it not somewhat precarious to establish such a music publishing company in a distant part of the world? Allan Badley disagrees: "You can do almost anything you like today", he replies. "Intellectual property is very easily transported. Unless you're doing detailed and specialised research on paper types, for instance, most work can be done from microfilm. I'm extremely fortunate in being able to engage on such a large historically important venture with a record label prepared not only to take a chance, but to have the commitment to work in an extensive way on a repertoire which has been largely ignored. Although our composers to date have been mostly drawn from those who worked in and around Vienna and Mannheim - such as Hofmann, Dittersdorf , Ordonez, Vanhal, Johann Stamitz and Franz Beck - we will expand this over time to include interesting figures, like Dussek and Myslivecek. Eventually we hope to extend ourselves to the early 19th century and look at some of Beethoven's contemporaries. People have become increasingly intrigued by the musical, social and cultural environment that great composers lived in. What was the sound world of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven? What works did they know?".

Allan Badley is a warm and generous advocate of the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, which he managed until recently. "These works have to be played with verve, understanding and absolute precision. The Stamitz Trios are fiendishly difficult from the point of view of ensemble. The New Zealand Chamber Orchestra has learned an enormous amount from period instrument groups and have adopted a style suitable for their own players. I think they perform this music with spirit, understanding, enthusiasm and affection - that's the key - I'm very proud of them. Much of the credit for this goes to Donald Armstrong (the NZCO's Musical Director) who has played baroque violin and taken a keen interest in historical performing practice. He has transformed the way the players approach this music. We've also been fortunate to work with Malcolm Bilson who left a strong imprint on the Orchestra. The worst thing we can do", comments Badley, "is to work under the tyranny of musicological rectitude. Like Malcolm Bilson, I believe ultimately that a performance must be musical. Music, of all things, should never be ideologically driven. Musicians must strive to perform musically and to do this we need to absorb as much as possible of the ethos of the period. This approach will never end up straight jacketing fine musicians".

How are the works selected and how are the editions prepared? In the course of his many field trips around Europe, Allan Badley kept notes of major collections and sources for particular composers. "Sometimes there's an element of inspired/educated guesswork involved in the location of these", he added. "More often than not, however, I make extensive use of either my own (unpublished notes) or published thematic catalogues".

Many works survive in a single source, which can present considerable difficulties in terms of editing, but at least it simplifies the matter of establishing which is the best one available. "Autograph scores and 'authentic copies' are extremely rare", says Badley. "Most works survive in multiple (manuscript) copies. Preference is given to sources which are close to the composer, such as Mannheim works in ex-Mannheim copies, now preserved in the Bavarian State Library in Munich or the Library of the Princes of Thurn und Taxis in Regensburg, but more often one has to be content with a clear professionally copied set of parts and hope that most of the notes are there! We do not publish critical editions in the strict sense of the term: our objective is to produce a clean scholarly text which faithfully reflects the composer's intentions as transmitted in the source being used". Artaria's founders hope that they will open up a new repertoire for chamber and baroque orchestras. Many of the compositions lend themselves particularly well to performance by university and college ensembles: in their own words "the best way of getting to know the music is to play it". With the prospect of being immersed in the music of his favourite periods for many years to come, Allan Badley pays tribute to Klaus Heymann. "It is a rare man who has the vision and courage to embark on a project of such magnitude. Through his commitment we're in a position to create one of the most productive unions of scholarship, performance and recording ever seen".

With twenty to twenty-four CDs a year appearing under the Naxos banner covering from between eighty to a hundred works, listeners and audiences might compare such a flowering to the Vivaldi revival which swept the world with the introduction of long-playing records in the 1950s. "There's a wealth of music waiting to be re-discovered", said Badley. "In the simplest terms, we're looking for anything attractive, exciting and well-written". May Artaria fully deserve the aura of the famous name it has revived. An early response to the first two CD Stamitz recordings in the April 1996 issue of Early Music Review suggests this could already be so: "Yet again, Naxos have shown the way! The range of their bargain-price recordings continues to spread apace. Here we have ten orchestral works played with considerable style (as you'd expect of anyone trying to emulate the famous Mannheim orchestra) on modern instruments.... There is a wealth of interesting music here, from the famed crescendo to the potent chromaticism of the Adagio of the Trio in E major". Praise indeed.


Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group