G A Benda: Philon und Theone

A-R Editions Benda "Philon und Theone"

Recent Researches in the Music of the Classical Era, 115
Edited by Austin Glatthorn
xxiv, three plates, 166pp.
A-R Editions, Inc. ISBN 978-1-9872-0456-8. $270

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The latest volume in this excellent series from A-R Editions includes not only Benda’s version of his last melodrama, but also the revised version of some movements (made by the glass harmonica player, Johann Ludwig Röllig, who commissioned it) for performances in Prague (the original Viennese production having been cancelled). Unlike Benda’s other melodramas, Philon und Theone (which tells of lovers separated by a sea storm, her protection by spirits, and their ultimate reconciliation) is not restricted to instrumental music interspersed with narrative; Theone is a sung role and the spirits sing two- and four-voice choruses. This, as the thorough and impressive introduction explains, brings the work closer to Singspiel and opera, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Schikaneder and/or Mozart (the latter certainly knew of Benda’s music) were acquainted with the work. The original version (for a string orchestra with pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, and trumpets with timpani) runs to p. 103, and the remainder is given over to Röllig’s Almansor und Nadine (the revision). The translation is given of all the words, and the music looks lively and effective, as Benda’s output tends to be – it still surprises me how few performances and recordings there are on the market! Congratulations to Glatthorn and A-R Editions on a very fine publication.

Brian Clark

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