Adorjan Quartet

Preussens Hofkapellmeister

Price: € 19.95
Format: CD
Label: Phil.Harmonie
UPC: 4250317416094
Catnr: PHIL 06009
Release date: 01 October 2021
1 CD
✓ in stock
€ 19.95
Catalogue number
PHIL 06009
Release date
01 October 2021

About the album

GEORG ABRAHAM SCHNEIDER: PRUSSIA'S HOFKAPELLMEISTER Although Georg Abraham Schneider is virtually unknown nowadays, he was a significant figure in early nineteenthcentury music in Berlin, where he was active as a musician, concert promoter, and composer. He was born in Darmstadt in 1770, the same year as Ludwig van Beethoven. After receiving a thorough grounding in all musical instruments apart from the piano, he joined the Darmstadt court orchestra in 1787. In 1795 he moved to the court at Rheinsberg, which was the seat of Prince Henry of Prussia, the brother of Frederick II. When Prince Henry died in 1802, Schneider became a member of Berlin’s court orchestra. However, the orchestra was disbanded after Napoleon defeated Prussia in the twin battles of Jena-Auerstedt, and the royal family subsequently fled. Schneider suddenly found himself without a job. The flute quartets Op. 52/3 and Op. 69/3 could well have been composed around 1810, while Schneider was without regular employment; they were certainly published before 1815. They were undoubtedly modeled on Mozart’s flute concertos, both in the musical and textural structure and in the treatment of the flutes. Both quartets have only three movements – lacking the minuet, which was not well liked in Berlin – and the flutes very clearly take center stage. They are nevertheless genuine pieces of chamber music rather than flute concertos, for the strings play a significant role not only during the bridge passages, but also in introducing the themes. This becomes particularly obvious in the andante of Op. 52/3, a series of variations in which, after the introduction of a simple theme reminiscent of Haydn’s slow movements, the viola, the cello, and finally the violin take the lead in turn and all the instruments alternate at the end. While the quartet Op. 52/3 in G Major is characterized by an air of untroubled joviality, especially in the first and last movements, the quartet Op. 69/3 has a very different tone. The absence of cello and the pulsating eighths in the accompaniment at the beginning are suggestive of Mozart’s late string quintet in the same key. Both works also have the same fragmentary structure, with sudden interruptions of motion and expansive harmonic passages. Only the slower, middle movement counters with a musical idyll that is replaced by nervous triplet motion in the final movement. Schneider thus demonstrates his skill in what his contemporary Heinrich Christoph Koch called the main function of music as an aural art form: the all-embracing expression of perceptions and passions (see the article “Empfindung” [Perception] in his Musikalisches Lexikon dating from 1802). Duets for strings had been fashionable since the late eighteenth century. They were treated both as teaching material and as an intrinsic part of bourgeois parlor music, enabling people to listen to the wider world of the concert hall in their own sitting rooms. Early works were written by Michael Haydn and Mozart (duets KV 423, 424), by Beethoven (“Eyeglass” duet for viola and cello), and by Spohr and other violin virtuosos; there was also an abundance of arrangements of the most recent operas and symphonies. In addition to his works for violin and viola, Schneider wrote numerous other duets for diverse instruments, primarily for two flutes, two clarinets, and two horns. An 1833 catalogue of works penned by Schneider himself lists fifty duets for two bassoons, although very few of these seem to have survived. Schneider would certainly have approved of the way that several pieces for two double basses have been adapted in this recording. They are intended as educational material, but for two players of a similarly high standard who can set an exhilarating dialogue in motion while simultaneously developing their technical skills and musicality. So although these pieces are not overly long, they can be interpreted as an encyclopedia of the music of the time: its compositional techniques, its character, its figurations and playing techniques. The music on this recording is full of wit, enthusiasm, and vitality; it illustrates perfectly where Schneider’s strength lay, namely in considering the benefits for the player as well as the effect on the audience.
"Die Welt der großen Konzerte ins eigene Wohnzimmer geholt ..." Georg Abraham Schneider, heute beinahe vergessen, spielte im Berliner Musikleben des frühen 19. Jahrhunderts eine bedeutende Rolle: als Musiker, als Konzertveranstalter und nicht zuletzt als Komponist. Vorbilder der Flötenquartette op. 52/3 und op. 69/3 waren sowohl in der musikalischsatztechnischen Faktur als auch in der Behandlung der Flöte zweifelsohne Mozarts Flötenquartette. Beide Quartette sind nur dreisätzig und stellen die Flöte eindeutig in den Mittelpunkt. Dennoch handelt es sich nicht gleichsam um ein Flötenkonzert, sondern um ein echtes Stück Kammermusik, sind die Streicher doch nicht nur in den Überleitungspartien, sondern auch an der Vorstellung der Themen in prägnanter Weise beteiligt. Schneider erweist sich hier als ein Meister in dem, was nach dem Zeitgenossen Heinrich Christoph Koch der Hauptzweck der Musik als Tonkunst ist: Umfassender Ausdruck der Empfindungen und Leidenschaften zu sein. Duos für Streichinstrumente waren seit dem Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts en vogue. Auch wenn diese Duos eher knapp gehalten sind, so ist doch der Versuch, den Eindruck eines großen orchestralen Klangs zu suggerieren, unüberhörbar. Im B-Dur-Duo op. 44/1 für Violine und Viola wird dies schon im ersten und vierten Takt deutlich, spielt die Viola doch als Doppelgriffe gleichsam Naturtöne und ahmt somit ein Horn nach. Und im Folgenden gibt es immer wieder plötzliche Mollwechsel, dramatische Ausbrüche sowie Doppel- und Mehrfachgriffe, die große dramatische Wucht und Klangfülle entfalten. Neben den Werken für Violine und Viola schrieb Schneider auch etwa 50 Duette für zwei Fagotte. Die in unserer Einspielung vorgenommene Adaption einiger Duette für zwei Kontrabässe wäre sicher in Schneiders Sinn gewesen: Gedacht als Unterrichtsliteratur, die allerdings zwei technisch gleich versierte Spieler voraussetzt, um so ein anregendes dialogisches Spiel zu entfalten, wollen sie gleichzeitig die technische wie die musikalische Entwicklung fördern. Dass dabei geistreiche Musik voller Spielfreude und Vitalität entstand, macht deutlich, worin die Qualität des Praktikers Schneider bestand: Er dachte immer sowohl an den Nutzen für die Spieler wie die Wirkung auf die Zuhörer.


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