Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Email Password  
Not a subscriber yet?  
Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Paul Turok
Turok’s Choice, June 2009

WDR broadcasts from Cologne offer wonderful performances by Cappella Coloniensis, of clarinet concertos by Carl and Johann Stamitz (Phoenix177) Cherubini’s Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn, beautifully sung by Marilyn Schmiege, Martyn Hill and Paolo Barbacini and Symphony in D Major (Phoenix175), symphonies by Gossec, Vanhal, Mahaut and Kraus (Phoenix174), flute concertos by Frederick the Great, Telemann and Fasch (Phoenix172), overtures by Heinchen, Graupner (with prominent use of a pair of clarinets), Fasch and Graun (noticeably old fashioned) (Phoenix173), and a Haydn disc featuring several cantatas, well sung by Schmiege, the Fourth Violin Concerto, well played by Ingrid Siefert and the Symphony No.92 (Phoenix176). All these discs are worthwhile, but the symphonies, Haydn and Cherubini discs are essential.

Patrick Hanudel
American Record Guide, May 2009

Founded in 1954, the Cappella Coloniensis is a period performance ensemble based in Cologne whose members “wish to present the compositions in the way they sounded at the time they were written and as the composers wished and expected to hear them”. Such endeavors, of course, are still guesswork; but in the early 1980s, the group recruited the renowned German clarinetist Hans Deinzer, who shares their enthusiasm for musical reconstruction, to record on period instruments the 18th Century clarinet concertos of the famous Mannheim kapellmeister Johann Stamitz and his son Carl.

Here are three works from the Cappella Coloniensis Stamitz projects—the February 1982 recording of Carl’s Concerto No. 4 for two clarinets and orchestra in B-flat, played by Deinzer and Jann Engel, conducted by Gabriele Ferro; the February 1983 recording of the Carl Stamitz Orchestral Quartet in G for strings, conducted by Ulf Bjorlin; and another Bjorlin-led effort that same month of the Johann Stamitz Clarinet Concerto in B-flat, with Deinzer as soloist.

Johann Stamitz was one of the first composers to make winds a permanent part of the orchestra, often writing for an ensemble of oboes, horns, and strings that became the standard Mannheim roster. During his visits to Paris in the 1750s, however, he encountered the clarinet, which added color to Rameau’s late opera orchestras and various Concert Spirituel chamber works. Stamitz wrote several symphonies for Paris, replacing the oboes with clarinets, and before his premature death in 1757, he completed a solo concerto for the young instrument.

Like his symphonies, the Johann Stamitz Clarinet Concerto is an important milestone in the development of a genre; ritornello form begins to give way to sonata form and rondo form, and an instrument used mostly for timbre and texture is handed the opportunity to sing expressive lines and show off its technical prowess. Carl Stamitz must have been particularly inspired, for he wrote at least ten clarinet concertos, including the fourth concerto for a pair of clarinets. But in this work Carl seems reluctant to build on his father’s innovations, preferring a loose ritornello structure that allows both clarinets to play as soloists as well as a team.

Renditions on period instruments can be difficult to evaluate, but Deinzer’s efforts are as good as one will hear. To be sure, there are occasional problems with intonation and articulation, but Deinzer has a solid command of the instrument, and his phrasing and dynamics are extremely expressive. Engel does not fare as well in solo passages, but overall, the performances are well done. The Cappella Coloniensis is a thoroughly professional and dedicated group, and they shine not only in the concertos, but in Carl Stamitz’s Orchestral Quartet, which sounds much like the delightful ripieno concertos of the middle and high baroque.

Bob Briggs
MusicWeb International, April 2009

Father and son Stamitz here demonstrate the versatility of the clarinet, which was still in its relative infancy when these works were written. The use of the modern clarinet, whilst making these work most enjoyable, probably irons out some of the corners which would have been created by the less sophisticated instrument for which they were written.

The Double Concerto is a lovely work. It has no pretensions to any real depth of feeling. Even the slow, middle, movement is quite a fast moving Andante. This is more of a divertimento than a Concerto for the music contains none of the tension and dispute normally found in a Concerto. The soloists play together most of the time, in gentle and relaxed lyricism. But no matter what the title of the piece, this is a real winner and a delight to listen to. Indeed, it is exactly the lack of conflict usually found in a Concerto which makes it such a joy.

The Orchestral Quartet is a three movement Suite for string orchestra. It’s as light as the Concerto which precedes it but, strangely, contains a stronger sense of purpose. It would be appreciated at any concert of music of this period and would be a most welcome change from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Although without the total charm of that well known work, it has an appeal which is all its own.

Daddy Stamitz’s Clarinet Concerto is the real thing; a dialogue between soloist and orchestra. A very serious first movement, complete with cadenza, gets things off to a good start. There are good tunes, proper working out of material, always with the soloist prominent, and a fine grasp of form. The slow movement, is a kind of aria and is all too short; the finale a lively dance. The performance is very good but my one complaint is the huge rallentando at the final cadence of the first movement. This abruptly puts the brakes on an otherwise delightful exposition of the music.

These are perky, and very enjoyable, performances of clarinet concertos which aren’t by Mozart! The recordings come from West Deutsches Radio and they are clean and bright, if without the sparkling quality we usually expect from digital recordings. Indeed, these must have been amongst the first digital recordings WDR undertook. Great fun, quite stylish performances and good sound. Well worth investigating.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, February 2009

Johann Stamitz, as conductor of the Mannheim court orchestra, is credited with creating the "Mannheim Crescendo" that revolutionised central-European court music style in the mid-1700s. A fine example is provided in the lovely Concerto in Bb, expertly rendered here by Heinz Denzler. Johann's son Karl is said to have even surpassed his father's musical gifts, as evidenced by the two fine examples on this altogether fun CD. The Double Concerto is a clarinettist's delight, and the orchestral quartet for strings (with parts quadrupled) prove the depth of expression inherent in the string quartet.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group