Forgotten Treasures, Vol 02: Danzi: Bassoon Concertos - Gower / Willens
Ars Produktion ARS 38 019
Classical - Orchestral
Franz Danzi: Bassoon Concertos in C, F and G minor, Overture in E sharp major
Jane Gower (bassoon)
Michael Alexander Willens
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - July 18, 2015
Recorded already some time ago, it seems that we not only have here some ‘forgotten’ music, but also that these ‘treasures’ have been overlooked by reviewers. I found none.
The first thing one notes is that cover design and unobtrusive colours of the patchwork in the background breathe harmony. Opening the box, however, reveals a more intriguing side, finding its confirmation as soon as the first track of this disk starts playing: an overture whetting your appetite for the three following bassoon concerti.
Unlike some other composers in this series, Danzi is not as unknown to the musical world as the liner notes suggest. True, most recordings are limited to his chamber works, notably his wind quintets, recordings of his Bassoon concerti being hard to find. Although Albrecht Holder recorded 4 of them with the New Brandenburg Philharmonic Orchestra/ Nicolas Pasquet for Naxos in a series dedicated to this composer (still available on RBCD), this present recording by ARS Produktion is nonetheless a more than welcome addition to the classical catalogue, the more so because these concerti are the only ones available in High Resolution.
Franz Danzi was, at the start of his career, closely associated with the Mannheimer Schule. His (Italian) father played cello in the Mannheim orchestra, renowned for its high quality, and for which much credit goes to the Stamitz family as well as, of course, its paymaster (?) Karl Theodor. The young Danzi, succeeding his father in this orchestra, played the cello as well, but had a particular interest in wind instruments for which he composed numerous works. On the musical ‘timeline’ he may, in a certain way, be considered a ‘trait d’union’ between classical Mozart and pre-romantic von Weber, whose mentor he later became. Danzi was an erudite and well known for his vast cultural and musical knowledge, albeit conservative in his outlook.
All this shines through in his compositions. The bassoon concerti, three of which have been selected for the present recording, are elegant and well-structured along classical lines, consisting of each three movements, with first movements, including introduction, notably longer than the rest. It has virtuoso elements, but not too prominent. The orchestral accompaniment plays more than a mere supporting role. These concerti give a lot of ‘undemanding’ listening pleasure.
Jane Gower, trained at the famous ‘period’ Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands, has appeared as Principal Bassoonist in such famous orchestras as The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Freiburger Barockorchester, and other top period ensembles in Europe and elsewhere. Technically competent and musically eminent, she excels in all three concerti with a beautiful tone. Michael Willens and his musicians of the Koelner Akademie give the right kind of support, maintaining an excellent balance between soloist and the various orchestral sections, while playing lively and full of ‘esprit’.
Expertly recorded, this is a disk not to be missed.
Copyright © 2015 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net