Sperger: Symphonies

l’arte del mondo, Werner Ehrhardt
62:35
deutsche harmonia mundi 88875056172
Symphonies 21 in g, 26 in c, 34 in D

The three symphonies which receive world premieres on this fabulous recording were written between 1786 and 1789, during which the time the composer – who is perhaps best known nowadays for his virtuoso works for double bass – endured unsettling times professionally; by 1789, he had settled into his final position in the court orchestra of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They all follow the same pattern; after a lively opening comes an Andante, a Menuetto and a Finale. That is where an predictability ends, however; indeed, if these three works are typical of the composer’s symphonic output, I am very surprised that they are not featured on concert programmes more regularly; cast very much in the Viennese classical style (like Beethoven and Hummel, he was a pupil of Albrechtsberger), the violins carry the majority of the melodic interest, with colour supplied by the woodwinds. Of course, we live in an age when Haydn struggles for public performances, indeed, even Mozart does! Still, l’arte del mondo and Werner Ehrhardt deserve our thanks for bringing new repertoire to our attention, especially in such beautifully crafted performances.

Brian Clark