Schubertian, UK- sparkling performances of all the pieces
January 19, 2010
(2) Café Vienna: 19th-Century Café Music performed by Michala Petri (recorder) and Lars Hannibal (guitar). OUR Recordings 6.220601 (2009)
All who have been to Vienna will recognise the importance of the coffee-house in the social ambience of the city, perhaps not as significant now as it once was yet still a vibrant part of its culture. ‘Café Vienna’ is an imaginative reconstruction of a typical café concert. As Joshua Cheek observes in the most interesting CD booklet, in this particular programme “recorder and guitar have formed the imaginary ‘house band’ in order to recreate the experience of enjoying a leisurely Sunday afternoon Kaffeeklatsch in Vienna c.1800.” While Schubert is not represented there is almost certainly some music here that Schubert would have heard. All are arrangements of compositions originally written for other instrumental combinations. The most substantial work is Mauro Giuliani’s three-movement Gran Duetto Concertante op.52 for violin or flute and guitar. As Giuliani (1781-1829) was the official concert artist for the celebrations of the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) that marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars, this piece, with its final Rondo Militaire, may have been performed frequently at the time. The Fantaisie sur un Air National Anglais op.102 by the guitar virtuoso Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841), originally for violin and guitar, takes the form of a slow introduction followed by the British national anthem as the theme for a set of variations. The material is more or less equally distributed between recorder and guitar and each has an opportunity to shine. In the Fantaisie sur des Airs Nationaux Francais op.226 by Joseph Küffner (1776-1856), the French national anthem has pride of place. In 1795, two years before Schubert was born, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) wrote six pieces for mandolin with keyboard accompaniment. Only four of these have survived, including the Sonatina in C minor WoO 43a and the Sonatina in C major WoO 44a. The three final items – the Introduction, Theme and Variations op.32 by the wind-instrument virtuoso Ernest Krähmer (1795-1837), the Potpourri on Themes of Beethoven and Rossini by the violin virtuoso Josef Mayseder (1789-1863) and the Variations on an Austrian Folk Tune by Carl Scheindienst (c.1800) - were written for the csakan, a folk instrument with the same range as the alto recorder. The Danish duo of Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal give sparkling performances of all the pieces and admirably recreate the atmosphere of an early 19th-century Viennese coffee concert.