Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kozeluch - Symphonies - Concerto Koeln



Leopold Kozeluch's life as a musician was a success story. Like his older contemporary Haydn he had a full three-score-and-ten-year life-span at a time when the likes of Mozart, Schubert and Weber had barely half that. He could pick and choose his work (he turned down Mozart's post in Salzburg when the latter was unceremoniously and literally kicked out in 1781), taught at the Imperial Court in Vienna, ran his own publishing house, organized private concerts at his house, and made his activities the hub of musical occasions in the Austrian capital. He was a keyboard virtuoso and prolific composer as well as a highly efficient businessman. He wrote eleven symphonies (double the number when it came to keyboard concertos) of which four are admirably played by the highly Portrait of Leopold Koželuh by W. Ridley respected Concerto Köln on this disc, three of them recorded for the first time, and the two with subtitles still unpublished. Kozeluch's writing demands virtuosity, high horns liberally scattered throughout all four works, whilst the woodwind solos of the C major symphony provide bassoon and flute with plenty to do. His livelier movements sparkle and yet there are moments of Sturm und Drang, the minuets are charming and gracefully danceable, whilst the Prestos always provide an exciting conclusion. The finale of the 'irresolute' Bb symphony is quite extraordinary and fully lives up to its title, ending most unusually with an orchestral recitative. The playing throughout is excellent, research and authenticity impeccable. These are quality works which stand on their own, possessed of a clearly enough defined identity to distinguish them from his self-evidently greater contemporaries.—Christopher Fifield




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