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The Classical Explorer

March 2010 Archives

French Virtuoso

Classic Talent DOM291112

Rodolphe Kreutzer

Violin Concerto #9 in E minor (1802)
Violin Concerto #13 in D Major (1804)
Peasant Song of the Canigou "Montanyas Regaladas" (1831)
Variations on "Nel cor più non mi sento" from "La Molinara" (1810)

Saskia Lethiec, violin
Orquesta Do Norte, Porto/José Ferreira Lobo
Classic Talent DOM291112 64:19

One of the primary exponents of the French school of violin, Kreutzer was able to ride out the French Revolution and subsequent chaos with barely a glitch to his career. He was famous throughout Europe as one of the great virtuosos of his age. Louis Spohr, no mean violinist himself considered him the most cultivated of the Parisian violinists, and Ludwig van Beethoven was so impressed with his playing that he dedicated his ninth violin sonata to him. Kreutzer considered Beethoven's sonata unplayable, however, and so never performed it.

The early concertos show the influence of his teacher, Anton Stamitz, and of the italian virtuoso Giovanni Battista Viotti who he met in 1782, but of the 20 concertos (all composed 1801-10) the later works show an individual voice emerging. Albrecht Breuninger has also released a set of three late concertos (#15, 18 & 19) with Alun Francis and the Southwest German Radio Orchestra on CPO 777188-2.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

More Than Opera

EMI 763949-2

Charles Gounod

Symphony #1 in D Major (1855)
Symphony #2 in E Flat Major (c. 1856)

Toulouse Capitole Orchestra/Michel Plasson
EMI L'Espirit Français CDM763949-2 58:33

The second symphony was recorded many years ago by Igor Markevitch, but it's only quite recently that both symphonies have appeared in a handful of versions. Despite being written in the mid-nineteenth century, the orchestration is strongly reminiscent of Beethoven. Emotional depths are not plumbed, but pleasure is all but guaranteed in the hands of Plasson, a specialist in French repertoire. More rarely recorded is Gounod's delightful Little Symphony for winds and written in his old age. It's well worth seeking out.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Unknown Schubert 2

Hyperion CDA67000

Franz Schubert

Symphony in D Major, D.615 (1818)
Symphony in D Major, D.708A (1820-21)
Symphony #10 in D Major, D. 936A (1828)

Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras
Hyperion CDA67000 54:02

All of the works on this CD have been prepared by the British musicologist Brian Newbould. The first two items comprising two and four movements respectively, have been left in incomplete form so that some movements stop unexpectedly. The Symphony #10 is a more substantial work in three movements. Of particular interest is its superb slow movement, which anticipates Gustav Mahler. Newbould has also "completed" the Unfinished Symphony and Naxos has recorded an orchestration of the Death and the Maiden string quartet which I haven't heard.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]