German clarinetist Dieter Klöcker founded his Consortium Classicum in the 1960s and has occasionally devoted it to the rediscovery of obscure repertory for wind instruments. The group has made several recordings of Harmoniemusik or wind-band (paired oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons) arrangements of operas of the late 18th century, many of which were made by oboist and composer Johann Nepomuk Wendt. Mozart's operas underwent these arrangements, sometimes even at Mozart's own hands (he pulled an all-nighter to rush one out for Die Entführung aus dem Serail to beat a competitor), for wind bands were maintained by numerous Austrian noble establishments. This impeccably played recording gives a taste of music that might easily have been heard at a Viennese soiree in the weeks after the premiere of an opera by Antonio Salieri, Mozart's putative rival.
For more than twenty-five years now the popular image of Antonio Salieri has taken on the resentful personality given to him in the film Amadeus (1984). Salieri indeed has been waiting for nearly two hundred years to have his name cleared, since the suspicion that he eliminated Mozart started to circulate in the 1820s. What is absolutely certain is that Salieri neither kiIIed Mozart nor did anything to speed his demise on. Listening to Salieri's music, and in this particular instance, to Il mondo aIIa rovescia, an opera which has been exhumed after over two hundred years', we immediately find analogies with the language of Mozart's operas on librettos by Lorenzo Da Ponte. For over thirty years, Salieri was one of the foremost figures of theatrical life in Vienna, and clearly could not have been if he had not been endowed with an authentic, original musical talent. In reality, the problem of the reciprocal influence of Mozart and Salieri stiII needs to be clarified to a great extent.
In the history passion oratorio composition in the 18™ century, Metastasio's poem La Passione di Gesu Crista (1730) constitutes an important step towards the new aesthetics of sentimental descriptions of suffering in its total rejection of the literally recited biblical accounts of the passion. Metastasio's libretto follows genuinely theatrical ideas in the way it completely relinquishes the words of the bible and the person of Jesus and became extremely popular - not only - in Catholic areas of Europe during the entire 18m century. The fact that many renowned composers approached this libretto with their own compositions may serve to give an impression of the huge effect Italian passion oratorios and the emphasis on secular tendencies had during that time.
In its day La scuola de’ gelosi (1778) was one of the best-known comic operas by Antonio Salieri (1750–1825), remaining a box-office hit for decades. All the more astonishing is the fact that it could sink into obscurity. Even Goethe was excited by this masterpiece: “The opera is the audience’s favourite, and the audience is right. It contains an astonishing richness and variety, and the subject is treated with the most exquisite taste. I was moved by every aria.” In the wake of its world premiere in Venice in 1778, La scuola de’ gelosi was performed in opera houses all over Europe, from Dresden, Vienna, Prague and Paris to cities as far away as London and St Petersburg, before it passed into near-oblivion.
Das Urteil der Musikgeschichte über den Komponisten Antonio Salieri schien eindeutig und wurde deshalb bis in die jüngste Zeit kaum überprüft: Ein solider Handwerker mit geringer Inspiration, der dem genialen jüngeren Mozart seinen Erfolg neidete, ihm gar nach dem Leben trachtete. Interessanterweise führte gerade der „Amadeus”-Film von Milos Forman, der an der alten Legende weiterstrickte, zu einer wenn auch bescheidenen Salieri-Renaissance, die in dem Salieri-Album Cecilia Bartolis, einer glanzvollen Rehabilitation des verkannten Meisters, ihren Höhepunkt fand.
Ekkehard Pluta (25.10.2007)
“This disc represents a major expansion in repertoire … excellently played and recorded“ (Fanfare)
Though often ignored, underplayed, or even reviled, Antonio Salieri is a brilliant composer who deserves to be honored among all the great composers, including his student W.A. Mozart. Fortunately, the Budapest Strings do Salieri’s compositions justice on this bright, cheerful album of three works for chamber orchestra. Salieri’s Concerto for oboe, violin, cello, and orchestra is simply lovely. Beginning with a bright, full, assured sound from the orchestra, it invites the listener on a musical journey that is never less than engaging. The soloists play beautifully together, never missing a note. The violinist has a solid core to his sound; it is especially notable in the Cantabile, which is richly textured, even for a slow movement. Each instrument’s voice in the orchestra is carefully shaped, and this brings out the counterpoint and various lines in the music.