Army of Generals: The World of the Mannheim Court Orchestra, from 1742-78 Volume I

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Release: 30 November 2020
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About the Album

The namesake of this anthology “Army of Generals” comes from a quote by English musicologist Charles Burney, who visited Mannheim in 1772 and wrote: “There are more solo players and good composers in this, than perhaps in any other orchestra in Europe; it is an army of generals, equally fit to plan a battle, as to fight it.”

Under the reign and patronage of Elector Carl Theodor during 1743-78, the court orchestra of Mannheim became the leading centre of musical life in Europe. Not only were its performances of the music of the finest composers of the day considered first rate, but also were its own school of composers, virtuoso players, and innovative style. This school had a profound influence on later composers like Mozart and Haydn, and Mozart notably sought employment there, albeit unsuccessfully.

German philosopher and music critic Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart wrote in 1784: “The elector's theater and his concert hall were almost an odeum, characterized by the masterworks of all artists. The elector 's changing mood contributed very much to this taste. Jommelli, Hasse, Graun, Traetta, Georg Benda, Sales, Agricola, the London Bach (Johann Christian Bach), Gluck, [and] Schweitzer alternated there year after year with the compositions of his own masters, so that there was no place in the world where one could so surely develop his musical taste so quickly as in Mannheim […] No orchestra in the world has ever surpassed the performance of the Mannheim orchestra. Its forte is thunder; its crescendo, a cataract; its diminuendo, like a crystal stream  plashing in the distance; its piano, a spring breeze. The wind instruments were all as suitable as they could be: they lift and carry, or they fill up and animate the storm of the violins.”

Although this music was extremely popular and influential in its time, it is largely forgotten today, so the release of this anthology of recordings brings new light to this otherwise obscure and underrated repertoire. 

 

 

Track Listing

Franz Ignaz Beck (1734 – 1809) - Symphonie Périodique No.17 in E flat major, C. 27 (1761)

  1. Allegro con spirito
  2. Andante
  3. Minuetto & Trio
  4. Presto

Johann Christian Bach (1735 - 1782) - Recitativo e Aria (Alcidoro): “Anime, che provate” -  "Queste selve gia d'amore" from Amor Vincitore (1774)
with obbligato flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon

Soloists: Tinka Pypker (soprano), Florencia Gómez (traverso), Federico Forla (oboe), Elia Celegato (clarinet), Bernat Gili (bassoon)

Performance edition: Paul Corneilson
The performing material was provided by The Packard Humanities Institute, Los Altos, California.

Johann Christian Bach (1735 - 1782) – Concerto for the Pianoforte Op. 13 No. 6 in E flat (1777)

  1. Allegro
  2. Tempo di Menuetto

Soloist: Anders Muskens (fortepiano c. 1787)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) - Recitativo e Aria “Alcandro, lo confesso” ‐ “Non sò d'onde viene” K.294 (1778)
Soloist: Tinka Pypker (soprano)

Niccolò Jommelli (1714 – 1774) - Aria (Didone) “Va crescendo il mio tormento” from La Didone Abbandonata (1763 version)
Soloist: Tinka Pypker (soprano)

Carl Stamitz (1745-1801) - Symphonie de chasse in D (1772)

  1. Grave - Allegro
  2. Andante
  3. Allegro moderato - Presto

 

 

Composers and Works featured in this Volume

Franz Ignaz Beck (1734-1809) was born in Mannheim, and began lessons on violin with his father. Recognizing Beck’s talent, the court decided to support his musical education, and he would become a pupil of Johann Stamitz. Beck briefly studied in Italy with Baldassare Galuppi, but left abruptly after supposedly killing an opponent in a duel. He gained fame when his works were performed in the Concert Spirituel in Paris, which was followed by lucrative publications. By 1760, he was director of a theatre orchestra in Marseilles, and by 1764, he became the director of the orchestra at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, where he produced operas and published many sets of keyboard pieces. His symphonies have a distinctive Sturm und Drang quality, and are some of the most progressive of the period with their intense drama and advanced orchestration.

Carl Stamitz (1745-1801) was the son of the famous first concertmaster of the Mannheim Court Orchestra, Johann Stamitz (1717-1757) and one of the leading members of the second generation Mannheim School. He toured across Europe and performed on violin, viola, and viola d’amore. His compositions were widely published  and he is renowned for his contribution to the symphony, concerto, and symphonie concertantes. Le chasse (the hunt) was a common subject for musical pieces in the eighteenth-century, and was often inspired by the decadent rituals performed in the French court.

Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782) was the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Unlike any other member of the Bach family, he would move to Italy, become Catholic, and wrote mainly opera and sacred music. He was hired by Queen Charlotte of Great Britain and subsequently established himself  in London, where he promoted the new-at-the-time pianoforte in public performances, performed in fashionable concerts with his friend Carl Friedrich Abel, and produced a multitude of opera seria for the King’s Theatre at the Hay-Market. His symphonies, chamber works, and keyboard pieces were published and widely disseminated throughout Europe. He was commissioned to write two operas in Mannheim: Temistocle (1772) and Lucio Silla (1776). Amor Vincitore is a serenata written in 1774 for the theatre at Elector Carl Theodor’s summer residence in Schwetzingen, whose performance was attended by Gluck. Bach dedicated his Op. 11 wind quintets to the Elector, and his cantata La tempesta was published in Georg Vogler’s Betrachtungen der Mannheimer Tonschule. The instrument used in this recording of the concerto is an original Longman & Broderip square pianoforte, made in London in 1787 and restored by Paul Kobald in 2018.

Niccolò Jommelli (1714-1774) was a Neapolitan composer who was esteemed in his day as the foremost innovator in the Italian opera genre, revolutionizing the genre with declamatory expression and increased complexity. His development of the “orchestral crescendo” captivated Johann Stamitz, who introduced this powerful effect into the Mannheim style, and it would go on to be known as the “Mannheim Crescendo.” His operas were performed frequently in Mannheim during the 1750’s and 60’s, and from 1754, he held a position as Ober-Kapellmeister in Stuttgart, where he continued to write opera and church music. La Didone Abbandonata was first performed in 1747 in Rome. A second version was prepared for Vienna in 1749, and the Stuttgart performance in 1763 is of the third revision. 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), who hardly needs any introduction, journeyed to Mannheim in 1777 at the behest of his father, seeking a permanent position. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in his endeavour, but he became friends with several prominent leaders of the orchestra, including flautist Johann Baptist Wendling. While there, he composed the concert aria “Alcandro lo confesso … Non sò d'onde viene” K. 294 on a text from Metastasio’s L’olimpiade for soprano Aloysia Weber, whom he was smitten with at the time, much to his father’s disapproval. 

 

 

Preview

 

 

Credits

Orchestra

Kapellmeister (harpsichord) and fortepiano solo: Anders Muskens
Soprano: Tinka Pypker
Violins I: Clara Sawada (concertmaster), Ewa Żołyniak - Adamska, Saaya Ikenoya
Violins II: Pietro Battistoni, Andrew Wong, Yumina Ishii
Viola: Corinne Raymond-Jarczyk
Cello: Amandine Menuge
Double Bass: Jesse Solway
Oboe I and Solo: Federico Forla
Oboe II: Christine Blasl
Flute I and Solo: Florencia Gómez
Flute II: Tiziano Teodori
Clarinet I and Solo: Elia Celegato
Clarinet II: Angélica Meza
Horn I: Nicolas Roudier
Horn II: Federico Cuevas Ruiz
Bassoon I and Solo: Bernat Gili
Bassoon II: Jeong-Guk Lee

Production

Sound engineer: Jakub Klimeš
Production assistant: Halldór Bjarki Arnarson

Instruments used in this recording

French harpsichord after Couchet (1680) / Blanchet (1758) / Taskin (1781) in Paris by Thomas Power in Amsterdam c. 2020

Square pianoforte by Longman & Broderip in London c. 1787, restored by Paul Kobald in Amsterdam c. 2018

8-keyed flute after Johann Heinrich Grenser in Dresden c. 1810 by Rudolf Tutz in Innsbruck c. 2015 

6-keyed oboe after Johann Heinrich Grenser in Dresden c. 1806-13 by Toshi Hasegawa in Deventer 

6-keyed clarinet after Johann Heinrich Grenser in Dresden c. 1802 by Rudolf Tutz  in Innsbruck  c. 2013

8-keyed bassoon after Johann Heinrich Grenser in Dresden c. 1806 by Pau Orriols & Alfons Sibila in Vilanova i la Geltrú

 

 

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Adriana Jacoba Fond, and SENA for making this album possible.

The recordings were made at the Oud Katholieke Kerk, Delft, in the Netherlands.