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CD Review

Franz Xaver Süssmyer

The Mirror of Arcadia

Arranged for Winds by Johann Nepomuk Wendt
Consortium Classicum
Dabringhaus & Grimm Gold MDG3011380-2 63m DDD
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Franz Xaver Süssmyer's musical fame rests solely on the fact that he completed Mozart's Requiem although he also has something in common with the Salzburg genius having died in 1803 at the tender age of 37 from pulmonary tuberculosis.

Unlike his great master, his output was not prolific, but he managed to command considerable esteem from those around him and even became conductor in the Imperial and Royal Theatre in Vienna, in 1794, the same year that his opera, 'The Mirror of Arcadia' was premièred. The work was an international smash hit witnessing performances in Prague, Weimar, Munich, Salzburg and even Paris. A few experts even dared to compare it with 'Don Giovanni' and 'The Magic Flute', and following its dissemination by the many wind ensembles of the day; its tunes were hummed and whistled in the streets.

The plot by Emanuel Schikaneder (The Magic Flute's author as well), is not great literature, but its mixture of magic potions, people who are saved from dire situations, who are in love and get their felicitous ending is great fun. This arrangement for wind ensemble is the work of the eminent Johann Wendt, whose amazing 'Seraglio' arrangement was long thought to be by Mozart himself.

This is music that is fresh, joyous and full of that youthful vigour which is not prone to the passage of time. The German chamber music ensemble Consortium Classicum was formed in the early 60's and for the past 40 years they have regaled us with some memorable performances not to mention their penchant to unearthing previously unknown works. This is a captivating disc, enthrallingly performed, sumptuously recorded, scholarly annotated and presented with a taste that is perfect for the music itself.

Copyright © 2006, Gerald Fenech