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Symphonies (Concerto Koln)

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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  • Orchestra: Concerto Köln
  • Composer: Leopold Koželuch
  • Audio CD (24 Sept. 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Teldec
  • ASIN: B00005NSQZ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 702,314 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Kozeluch is one of the better late eighteenth century contemporaries of Mozart and Haydn, and Concerto Koln bring out the best of his lively and inventive music in this recording of four interesting symphonies. This period instrument band plays them with their customary gusto and delight and unlike some late classical works these are ones I often return to. I can recommend these particular recordings wholeheartedly. This cd has been re-released on the Elatus label, cheaper but with fewer sleeve notes, and in an excellent 6 cd boxed compilation of CK recordings on Warner Classics at mid-price.
I'm always intrigued this transitional period, and while I appreciate most composers of the period do not approach the genius of Mozart or Haydn, there are still many that are well worth listening to. If you only know Mozart and Haydn, I would encourage you to discover symphonies and concertos by such composers as Vanhal and Krauss (especially in CC's interpretations), J L Dussek, Rosetti, Fils, Fodor, Eberl, Hoffmeister, Sterkel (see my cd recent review), Krommer, and the slightly later Wilms and Reicha (or Rejcha) - I doubt you'd be disappointed by any of them. I'd like to like Pleyel, another well-known late 18th century composer, but somehow I feel he's too earthbound compared with Kozeluch and I've yet to hear a recording that does him justice.
As for playing styles, I prefer Concerto Koln's gutsy period instrument recordings to, say, the London Mozart Players who seem to play too respectfully with modern instruments - I'd like to hear them let their hair down and take a few more risks! But musical style is a matter of personal preference. Anything by Concerto Koln is worth the money. CPO do a good range of more obscure composers from the 18th and early 19th century periods, recorded by such bands as La Stagione Frankfurt, and the German label Dabringhaus and Grimm are an equally eclectic label for this sort of music. Take a chance - there's much to discover and enjoy!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of Obscurity 15 Jan. 2006
By Peter Gordon - Published on
This is another excellent release from a long sequence of CD's by the brilliant Concerto Koln, mainly of little known works from the classical era.

Kozeluch was born roughly midway between Joseph Haydn and Mozart. He appears not to have been held in high regard by Mozart, possibly because he spoke disrespectfully of Haydn in Mozart's presence. Although highly successful, not least in the Viennese musical and court establishment, Kozeluch fell into almost complete neglect until recent years, when he his symphomic, chamber and fortepiano music have received several interesting treatments. This is one.

The disc is generously filled with four symphonies, of which the most impressive is probably the C Major which comes first. All appear to have been written in the 1780's, placing them roughly contemporaneous with the mature Mozart symphonies and the Haydn Paris set. Whilst they are not in the same class, Kozeluch's efforts are the work of a highly competent craftsman. There's seldom anything memorably melodic, and not the level of rigorous development one expects from the two great 18th Century symphonists. But there are occasional harmonic felicities, notably in the C Major, the orchestra is used capably, and we are certainly well above the level which Mozart satirised so wickedly in his "A Musical Joke".

Concerto Coln must be one of the very finest period instrument orchestras anywhere. They can achieve a big sound where necessary with relatively small forces - the strings are 4/4/3/2/2 - but their playing is always crisply articulated and beautifully transparent, with plenty of colour from the horns, woodwind and trumpet.

This can be warmly recommended for those interested in the classical era, or in excellent chamber orchestras. My 5 stars are much more for the performances than the inherent qualities of the music, interesting though that certainly is.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb rediscovery, stylistically somewhere between late Mozart and early Beethoven 26 Aug. 2011
By Discophage - Published on
Concerto Köln must be lauded and thanked again for unearthing and bringing back to us from oblivion such treasures. This CD with four symphonies of Leopold Kozeluch, recorded in November 2000, is one in a sizeable series of recordings/rediscoveries, shared mainly between Teldec and Capriccio, of composers from the late 18th and early 19th centuries that were almost blotted out of posterity's memory by the universal fame of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven: among these, Vanhal (Vanhal: 5 Symphonies - d1, g1, C11, a2, e1), Kraus (Kraus, Joseph Martin and Joseph Martin Kraus: Sinfonien, Vol. 2), Myslivecek (Il Divino Boemo: Josef Myslivecek Symphonies), Cannabich and the Stamitz father and sons (Mannheim: The Golden Age (Works by Christian Cannabich / Carl Stamitz / Anton Fils / Johann Stamitz / Ignaz Fränzl) - Concerto Köln), Rigel (Henri-Joseph Rigel: Symphonies), Wilms (Johann Wilhelm Wilms: Symphonien Nos. 6 & 7), Rosetti (Rosetti: Symphonies (Volume 1) /Concerto Koln and Antonio Rosetti: Symphonies, Volume 2 - Concerto Köln), Eberl (Anton Eberl: Symphonies - Concerto Köln), Brunetti (I'm now out of authorized product links - see the comments section), the Bach sons, Gossec and the composers of the French revolution - and that's excluding the recordings of concertos made with fortepianist Andreas Staier (Dussek and Salieri are out). I've reviewed many of those CDs. This Kozeluch CD is one of the best of the series.

Kozeluch was born near Prague and his dates (1747-1818) make him Haydn's younger by 15 years and Mozart's elder by 9. He was one of the most sought-after composers of his time, and hearing the four symphonies gathered here, one understands why. But two of the symphonies are still unpublished (or were when the recording was made), and it is difficult to say whether this factor is cause (it was customary in the classical era that compositions were published only after a long delay - keeping exclusive possession of the manuscript and parts was the only way for composers to retain copyright on their works and derive financial benefits from their performance) or consequence of the fact that Kozeluch soon fell out of sight in the 19th century, when Haydn and Mozart didn't. Posterity's ways are very mysterious (and mind you, the mystery is not so much that all the Kozeluchs, Vanhals and Krauss disappeared - before the era of sound recordings and "contemporary" music, the previous centuries were not turned to the past, and musical sensibilities dramatically changed between 1800 and 1830; the mystery is that despite all that, Haydn and Mozart remained; maybe there is just so much of the past that the Romantic era could remember, and these two fulfilled its needs).

Stylistically, the symphonies of Kozeluch fall between the finales of Mozart's late operas and Beethoven's early symphonies: powerful, dynamic, dramatic, with boisterous and vigorous scherzos and triumphant finales. Even when the slow movement of Symphony in A major (track 6) starts deceptively, in a fleeting march-like tempo and a galant style, it displays wonderful twists of invention, like the tempestuous tremolo erupting at 1:08. Symphony in D major - the first published Symphony of Kozeluch, in 1786, but deriving from ballet music composed in 1776 - is the most archaic, and not only formally (it has only three movements). Symphony in B flat major "L'irresoluto" is the most original in its construction and emotional trajectory, almost a "stream of consciousness" composition with great jumps in moods, and in which each movement links to the next.

Other than its own appeal, one of the reasons to listen to the music of Kozeluch and all those now all-but-forgotten contemporaries of Haydn-Mozart-Beethoven is to better understand the soil from which the latter emerged. But the more I listen to the music of that era (I've recently reviewed CDs of piano music of Clementi and Vorisek as well), the more I am tempted to reverse the statement: other than understanding better the soil from which Haydn-Mozart-Beethoven, the main reason for listening to the music of Kozeluch etc. is that it offers great musical rewards. Amateurs of Mozart-Haydn and the first two symphonies of Beethoven, give it a try.
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