Here, with usual delight, CPO has accomplished another new compilation of masterful works by one of hundreds, if not thousands, of skillful composers dismally forgotten for countless generations. One wonders why the musical world over the past 180 years, has been showered by the music of greater eighteenth-century composers, yet very few of their contemporaries, and even those who have had some influence on them, were ever given some coverage on the concert platforms. All I can say is that thank goodness we live in an age where the re-introduction of music by disregarded, but highly skilled, composers has been made readily available on CD. For the modern music lover, the advent of rediscovered masterpieces, original style performances and CD recordings, has opened our eyes, has broadened our mind, but above all continues to give us a greater pleasure and appreciation of art music beyond Bach, Handel and Mozart; particularly with CPOs many recordings.
This latest release featuring two concertos and a symphony by Christian Westerhoff confirms that he too is among these highly accomplished but forgotten masters. A court musician, his music is sublime; his melodies are intensely lyrical, they are refined and highly elegant. The main theme in the rondo in the double concerto for clarinet and bassoon (1790) is so catchy that the main melody simply lingers on in the hearer's mind well after the performance. The clarinet concerto (c1798) possesses the unusual distinction in having the soloist, together with the orchestra, open the first movement. After an extremely lyrical slow second movement, aided by the beautiful playing of the Osnabruck Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Hermann Baumer, the clarinetist (Sebastian Manz) concludes the work with a sprightly, energetic and memorable set of variations on an unforgettable theme. In both concertos Westerhoff supplies virtuoso writing, and here both Sebastian Manz and Albrecht Holder (the bassoonist) deliver technical brilliancy from start to finish, which include sparkling solo and duet cadenzas. In his symphony in E flat major (1796), Westhoff provides his score with an additional trumpet, horns and timpani. With clever construction, he introduces the timpanist in usual majestic guise, but soon lets the confined `animal' on the loose. An imitator of the Viennese School, Westerhoff's symphony has other remarkable features in its demeanor. After a lyrical second movement, a satirical-like minuet is followed in a somewhat Haydnesque fancy. The sparkling and highly energetic Presto finale, which brings all performers together, with its comic style grandeur is unforgettable and would surely bring down the house if performed in todays concert hall. This is a marvelous recording of unfamiliar music from the Viennese School. CPO you've won me over, once again.