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Simon Mayr: ”Concerto bergamasco” (Concerto in D minor for flute, clarinet, basset horn, piccolo and orchestra) – Keyboard Concerto in C major – Trio Concertante in A minor for three violins and orchestra
Natalie Schwaabe (Flute/Piccolo), Andrea Steinberg (Clarinet/Basset Horn), Antonio Spiller (Violin), Yi Li (Violin), David van Dijk (Violin), Franz Hauk (Harpsichord), Bavarian Classical Players, Franz Hauk (Conductor)
Recorded at Neues Schloss, Fahnensaal, Ingolstadt, Germany (September 19-22, 2007) – 53’36
Naxos # 8.570927 – Booklet in English and German

Simon Mayr hovers under the radar, severely neglected, requiring an asterisk-reminder in comparison to his more celebrated contemporaries of the time. Mayr grew up in the small town of Mendorf, Germany living under the shade of Haydn and Mozart. But in 1802 he moved to Bergamo, Italy where he studied with Carlo Lenzi, maestro di cappella of the Basilica Maria di Maggiore. It was in Bergamo that Simon Mayr collectively cultivated and blossomed into a well respected and accomplished musician evidenced by his multitudinous oratorios, concertos and operas with a regnant Italianate style, supplemented by splashes of Austro-Germanic zest. Today Simon Mayr continues to be an overlooked virtue. Notwithstanding his operatic accomplishments (garnering a reputation as “the father of Italian opera”, creating over seventy works and teacher to Gaetano Donizetti), the focus of this CD turns attention to Mayr’s concertos. It is well worth the journey.

Mayr may have made the greatest trademark to his name by using carefully chosen instruments to evoke conspicuous response, several of which are highlighted here. Commonly referred as the Concerto bergamasco, this piece can be sequestered as being an educative tool in exemplifying variations on a theme. The opening movement features Natalie Schwaabe's meticulous and mellifluous flute playing in the "Allegro" , followed by whiffs of whimsical magic via the clarinet, beautifully interpreted by Andrea Steinberg. Mayr brings into the fold solo sections centering around the basset horn, piccolo and pockets of complete orchestra; the instrument-specific figures once again convene in meaningful, logical conclusion during the "Tema con variazioni." This seven sectioned event is brimming with marvelous coloring.

Franz Hauk wears two hats in the ensuing Keyboard Concerto in C major. One of the hats features his exquisite dexterity of scaled runs across the proverbial harpsichord. The composition has a carefree, fluttering dialogue vis-a-vis this keyboard centerpiece and a tutti orchestra. Despite striking similarities to Mozart's concertos, Mayr displays his own refreshing and delicate tilt.

The Trio Concertante in A minor permits three violins center stage as a complement to the Bavarian Classical Players. Featured violinists, Antonio Spiller, Yi Li and David van Dijk, apportion solo segments of the twelve-plus minute piece, demonstrating their own virtuosic detail and artful sightings. Mayr’s uniquely tailored flourishes predominate in the "finale."

Simon Mayr was a prolific composer of his time, yet, unfortunately, we don't hear much about the pivotal gifts he brought to the classical world. The tables are slowly turning in rediscovering these unknown gems. This Naxos release is beautifully recorded, and it features an immeasurable, informative booklet written by Franz Hauk.

Christie Grimstad




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