C.E.F. Weyse: The Key Masterpieces
29 September 2010
Dacapo's Perspectives series provide an introduction for grown-ups to a series of Danish composers. There is always a decent introductory essay, full sung words and translations and a pair of capaciously filled CDs.
Julie Tutein. That was the name of the young woman who broke off her engagement to Weyse in 1801. The Danish composer fell into a black depression, ceased composing and described himself retreating into a vegetable state. Those dark years bifurcated Weyse's career. The seven symphonies - of which we have the first and last here - date from 1795-99. Weyse's silence was broken by his attendance at the Copenhagen premiere of Mozart's Don Giovanni in 1807. His own singspiel The Sleeping Draught followed two years later, The Feast at Kenilworth and the Christmas Cantata appeared in 1835 and 1836 respectively but there was to be much more. His main teacher had been J.A.P. Schulz although previously he had unsuccessfully tried to obtain a place studying with C.P.E. Bach.
The two Symphonies heard here combine a delicious Haydnesque wit with Mozartean calm and delight. The woodwind writing is especially gracious and blithe but the Elysian strings in the Seventh are also remarkable in the tribute they pay to Mozart's Fortieth.
On CD1 the First Symphony is followed by the lissom-toned tenor Mathias Hedegaard singing three songs with orchestra one from each of three operas/singspiels. The first Hyrden graesser sine far moves with a golden grace but that's also true of the blue eyed pair that follows each complete with harp introduction. These are lovely songs of a golden affectionate quality. The Gypsy Dance from Festen pa Kenilworth is a refreshing ‘alla turca' moto perpetuo. A harp contributes delightfully and at length through the finale of the Christmas Cantata.
Thomas Trondhejm has recorded the early piano sonatas. They are calming and gracious examples of the genre presented in pristine clarity. The second of the two movements includes some eccentric harmonic experiments. Bohumila Jedlickova plays the Eight Etudes op. 51 (1831). These are a tour de force both in terms of invention and as a passage of arms for the pianist.
The Overture to The Sleeping Daught is a brilliant little piece similar to The Marriage of Figaro overture. It is followed by the utterly charming Christmas Cantata for solo voices and orchestra with its echoes of Schumann and Raff.
The Seven Evening Songs are shared between soprano Else Torp and Mathias Hedegaard. They are sweetly sentimental pieces well centred in the Scandinavian romantic vocal tradition and in turn linking with Brahms' Volkslieder. These gold and autumn-hued songs are light yet touching.
The two discs are held in open envelopes hinged back and front into the sturdy little hardback book that holds the essay and texts.
This set gives every appearance of being a well informed and inspiringly chosen Weyse introduction. His classical and early romantic charms and delights are ready to open and charm our jaded ears.