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Josef MYSLIVECEK (1737 - 1781): "Complete Wind Octets and Quintets"

L'Orfeo Bläserensemble
Dir: Carin van Heerden

rec: July 28 - 30, 2007, Linz, Anton Bruckner-Privatuniversität
CPO - 777 377-2 (© 2010) (66'00")

Quintetto I in D (EvaM 5,D2); Quintetto II in G (EvaM 5,G2); Quintetto III in E flat (EvaM 5,Eflat3); Quintetto IV in B flat (EvaM 5,Bflat3); Quintetto V in F (EvaM 5,F3); Quintetto VI in C (EvaM 5,C3); Ottetto I in E flat (EvaM 8,Eflat1)a; Ottetto II in E flat (EvaM 8,Eflat2)a; Ottetto III in B flat (EvaM 8,Bflat1)a

Carin van Heerden, Andreas Helm, oboe; Ernst Schlader, Markus Springer, clarineta; Christian Binde, Albert Heitzinger, horn; Györgyi Farkas, Nikolaus M. Brodaa, bassoon; Maria Vahervuo, double bassa

From the 1730s on a large number of musicians from Bohemia migrated to various parts of Europe. Among them were many who were to play an important role in the development of new musical fashions in the era between baroque and classicism. Among them were the members of the Stamitz family and Franz Xaver Richter, some of the main representatives of the Mannheim school. Josef Myslivecek was also from Bohemia and was to become one of the most celebrated composers of opera, who made his career in Italy.

At first he concentrated on playing the violin, but in November 1763 he went to Venice to take lessons from Giovanni Battista Pescetti, especially in writing recitatives. As a result he started to compose operas. His breakthrough as an opera composer came when the Teatro di S. Carlo in Naples commissioned him to write an opera. Il Bellerofonte was first performed in January 1767. By 1770 he had come to such fame that Leopold Mozart, travelling through Italy with his son Wolfgang, paid him a visit, which resulted in a friendship which lasted for a number of years. Towards the end of the 1770s his glory faded and he didn't enjoy as much success as before. In addition to that his health deteriorated, and he became increasingly socially isolated. He died in 1781 and was buried in Lucina.

In the light of his reputation his oeuvre isn't that well represented on disc. His operas are hardly rediscovered yet, and the rest of his oeuvre is also hardly known. In recent years a couple of recordings have been released which contain some of his orchestral music. Most of these pieces are closely connected to opera, as many of his symphonies were originally used as opera overtures.

This disc presents his complete output for wind quintet and wind octet. Music for wind instruments was quite popular at the time, and most of the works written for them were of a divertimento-like character. That is also the case with the quintets by Mysliveced recorded here. They are scored for two oboes, two horns and bassoon, and are all in three movements, with mostly a menuet in the middle. In particular here some instruments is given prominence, like the oboes in Quintetto I, the horns in Quintetto III and Quintetto V, and the bassoon in Quintetto IV.

The octets are more substantial, which is reflected by their length. The liner-notes connect them to Myslivecek's operatic oeuvre, and that makes sense as they are quite dramatic. That is particularly expressed in the strong dynamic contrasts which are well exposed by the ensemble. The octets are also technically challenging. Several movements contain virtuosic parts for the various instruments: in the tempo di minuetto of the Ottetto I it is the two horns and the two bassoons, in the allegro spiritoso of Ottetto II the bassoons again.

The performances by the wind players of the L'Orfeo Baroque Orchestra leave nothing to be desired. The playing is technically of the highest level, and especially the horn players are impressive. The ensemble is excellent, and the solo passages or duets are excellently executed. And as these compositions by Myslivecek are enjoyable and entertaining there is every reason to strongly recommend this disc.

Johan van Veen (© 2010)

Relevant links:

L'Orfeo Barockorchester

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