Concilium musicum Wien on authentic instruments

Much of
the music here is diverting and functional—admirably so, certainly—but held to the demands of
“concert listening,” it does not always rise to a level of high interest.

Franz Anton Hoffmeister was a prolific composer and an important figure in the history of music
publishing. (His publishing ventures brought forth editions of Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart,
among others, and form a link with the early history of C. F. Peters.) His hunt symphony is a
congenial example of the working out of a style topic—horns and compound meter securely
evoke the hunting scene—but in the end it rarely rises above diversion. Johann Michael Haydn’s
D-major Serenade is also amicable company, but does not ask much of the listener. The
“Andante con variazioni” is the most engaging of the nine movements with compelling contrasts
of modality to keep things interesting, though at twelve minutes it seems long in a work that is
longish without being particularly expansive or developmental.

Joseph Haydn is represented by three “insertion arias” to operas by Cimarosa, Anfossi, and
Paisiello. Two of the three, as was the case with most of his insertion arias, were written for his
mistress, Luigia Polzelli. Polzelli had her musical limitations apparently, but this did not impede
Haydn giving her a notably beautiful tune in the Anfossi insertion.

The performances are generally stylish and accomplished. Soprano Ursula Fiedler has a brilliant
and sparkling sound. Occasionally one might wish for a bit more lightness and ornamental
character in the renditions, but these are fleeting instances. The ensemble of period instruments
can be uneven—the horns have a tendency to be a bit sharp and “blatty,” for example, but the
wind playing, especially solo passages for flute, oboe, and bassoon, remains very engaging and
polished, indeed. Not all of the interpretative calls are convincing—the minuets in the serenade
seem quite heavy of foot, I think—though in the main the performances are fluent and gratifying .
. . and admirably diverting.

Steven Plank

image_description=Concilium musicum Wien on authentic instruments
product_title=Concilium musicum Wien on authentic instruments
Franz Anton Hoffmeister, Sinfonie “La chasse’; Joseph Haydn, Opera Arias; Johann Michael Haydn, Serenata in D.
product_by=Concilium musicum Wien; Ursula Fiedler, soprano; Paul Angerer, Director
product_id=Cavalli Records CCD 449 [CD]