STAMITZ, J.: Symphonies, Vol. 2

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Johann Stamitz(1717-1757)

Symphony in F majorOp. 4, No. 1

Symphony in E flatmajor Op. 4, No. 4

Sinfonia Pastorale inD major, Op. 4, No. 2

Symphony in E flatmajor, Op. 4, No. 6

It would be fair tosay that the name Johann Stamitz is a good deal better known than any of hiscompositions. The reason for this can be traced back to the early years of thiscentury when the pioneering musicologist Hugo Riemann 'discovered' the works ofStamitz and his colleagues at the electoral court at Mannheim and announced tothe world that he had established the missing link between the Baroque andClassical periods. Riemann's work did much to focus scholarly attention on thevexed question of the evolution of the symphony - although later scholarsconcluded quite rightly that the origins of the classical Viennese symphonywere to be found in Vienna in the works of Dittersdorf, Hofmann, Vanhal,Ordonez and Haydn rather than in Mannheim - and he published many examples ofthe Mannheim symphony in major historical surveys. Riemann's work was done wellbefore the great early music revival which perhaps explains why it has taken solong for the music of Stamitz and his Mannheim colleagues to gain wider famethrough modern performances and recordings.

Johann Wenzel Anton Stamitzwas born in Nčmeck?¢ Brod, in Bohemia, in June 1717. His father, AntoninIgnac, was organist at the Dean's Church and later became a merchant, landownerand town councilor. Johann probably received his early musical training fromhis father before entering the Jesuit Gymnasium in Jihlava in 1728. He is knownto have been a student in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Pragueduring the academic year 1734-35 and is thought to have left the University inorder to establish a career as a violin virtuoso. Stamitz was probably engagedas a violinist by the Mannheim Court from 1741 to 42. The earliest knownreference to a concert appearance by him occurs in an advertisement for aconcert in Frankfurt am Main on 29th June, 1742 at which he was to performalternately on the violin, viola d'amore, cello and double bass as well asfurnishing a concerto for two orchestras of his own composition. Stamitz'sprofessional career took off in Mannheim. In 1743 he was named FirstCourt-Violinist; in 1745 or 1746 (the date is uncertain) he was awarded thetitle Konzertmeister and in 1750, was named to the newly-created post ofInstrumental-Music Director.

Under the Elector CarlTheodor (1724-99), an enlightened ruler with strong interests in philosophy,science and the arts, the court at Mannheim became one of the most glitteringin Europe. Although an important patron of art and literature, Carl Theodor'scentral interest was music and he spared neither effort nor expense in buildinghis court into one of the leading musical centres in Europe. In addition topresenting regular productions of new operas and ballets, the Mannheim Courtengaged a number of exceptional musicians, among them Franz Xaver Richter, theflautist Johann Baptist Wendling, Ignaz Holzbauer and the cellists InnocenzDanzi and Anton Fils (Filtz), all of whom played in the incomparable orchestraled by Johann Stamitz.

The Mannheim orchestrapresented weekly academies in the Rittersaal (the Knight's Hall)at the Electoral Palace. These academies were relatively informal socialgatherings and visitors were often given standing room to hear the performance.

The academies were the primary responsibility of the Concertmeister andStamitz was required to prepare and conduct the performance, perform occasionalconcertos and provide orchestral compositions of his own. While the orchestraachieved its greatest fame in the two decades following Stamitz's death, therecan be little doubt that he provided the original impetus toward thedevelopment of its new style of accurate, precise performance. Dr CharlesBurney, the English music historian, observed: "indeed, there are moresolo players, and good composers in this, than perhaps in any other orchestrain Europe; it is an army of generals, equally fit to plan a battle, as to fightit\.

In the late summer of1754, Stamitz undertook a year-long journey to Paris, appearing there for thefirst time in a Concert spirituel on the 8th September, 1754. While inParis he lived at Passy in the palace of the fermier general A.J.J. Le Richede la Pouplini?¿re, a wealthy amateur whose private orchestra he conducted, andwas also active in public concerts in the French capital, appearing withparticular success at the Concerts italiens.>

Stamitz probablyreturned to Mannheim in the autumn of 1755, dying there less than two yearslater at the age of thirty-nine. The official record of his death reads:

"March 30, 1757.

Buried, Jo'es Stainmiz, director of court music, so expert in his art that hisequal will hardly he found. Rite provided".

Although Stamitz'smusic was well-known in Paris before his visit there in 1754-1755 his presencein the French capital stimulated an intense level of interest in his work. Onemanifestation of this was the rapid publication of many of his symphonies in thelate 1750s and, perhaps, the composition of works like the famous OrchestralTrios Op. 1 which were surely intended for his new public.

The six Symphonies Op.

4 were published in Paris by Huberty in 1758, a year after the composer'sdeath, and include among their number two of Stamitz's fascinating OrchestralTrios (Wolf Cm-1 and Gm-1) which may be played either as trios or by asmall string orchestra. The remaining works appear to have been composed over aperiod of approximately seven years, which argues against the likelihood ofthem having been conceived as a set. It is possible, however, that Stamitzsanctioned the grouping for the purposes of publication prior to his death,since the Op. 4 set is a good deal more convincing than, for example, the Op. 8set which includes three works in the same key. According to Eugene K. Wolf,the authority on Stamitz's symphonies, the earliest work in the group isprobably Op. 4, No. 4 (ca.1750-1753) while the second, styled SinfoniaPastorale, may be among the last symphonies Stamitz wrote. The two triosalso appear to be late works and may have been written after the composer'sreturn to Mannheim.

The first symphony onthis recording, Op 4, No. 1, was written some time between 1752 and 1754. Likethe majority of Stamitz's mature symphonies the work is cast in four movementsand scored for the archetypal early classical orchestra of oboes, horns andstrings. The first movement is a fine example of Stamitz's mature structuralplanning. The distinctive triadic opening theme delineates the beginning of thecentral 'development' phase of the movement and is employed at the very end ofthe movement to bring it to a strong close rather than in its more typicalposition at the start of the recapitulation section. The brief crescendo passage- a hallmark of the composer's later works - also serves an importantstructural r??le in the movement and is not there merely for effect. After thedrive of the opening Allegro molto, the Andante strikes a morelanguid and relaxed tone with its frequent appoggiatura 'sighs'. Thewind instruments, omitted in the Andante, make a welcome return in Minuettoand Stamitz uses them with great flair in the succeeding Trio. Theenergetic finale is as skillfully crafted as the first movement and makes useof many of the same structural techniques. Whereas many composers of the periodwere writing light, vapid
Item number 8554447
Barcode 636943444726
Release date 12/01/1999
Category Classical
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Composers Stamitz, Johann
Stamitz, Johann
Conductors Ward, Nicholas
Ward, Nicholas
Orchestras Northern Chamber Orchestra
Northern Chamber Orchestra
Disc: 1
Symphony in E flat major, Op. 4, No. 6 (Wolf Eb5)
1 I. Allegro molto
2 II. Andante
3 III. Minuetto - Trio
4 IV. Presto assai
5 I. Allegro con brio
6 II. Andante
7 III. Minuetto I - Minuetto II
8 IV. Presto
9 I. Pastorale: Presto
10 II. Larghetto
11 III. Minuetto - Trio
12 IV. Presto
13 I. Allegro maestoso
14 II. Adagio
15 III. Minuetto - Trio
16 IV. Prestissimo
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