A cheerful little record, this, of three lightweight works played most exquisitely by very distinguished artists. In fact I am not sure that the chief distinction doesn't emanate from the orchestra: it is a while, as it happens, since I have heard the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and they seem to be playing here better than ever—sweet string tone, pure intonation, finely moulded phrasing, impeccably precise ensemble. Of the three works, the Cimarosa, written for two flutes (in which form it has several times been recorded), is the most attractive for its fluency, its melodiousness (the finale is a real charmer) and its elegant musical form; the Salieri seems by comparison rather carefully devised, though of course it has plenty of entertaining music. Carl Stamitz's piece takes itself more seriously, trying to be symphonic and taking less trouble about being tuneful—though the warm, galant slow movement makes very pleasing listening. The recorded sound is clear and true. (Stanley Sadie, Gramophone)
By far the best opera based on Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, is Verdi's Falstaff. But the lazy, cowardly, greedy, overweight, alcohol-soaked, sexually predatory, and somehow (despite everything) endearing antihero is big enough for more than one opera. Salieri's Falstaff is much simpler and smaller in scale than Verdi's, less inventive and energetic. But this is a sophisticated, funny, brightly performed treatment of Falstaff's attempt to woo two married women with identical love notes.(Joe McLellan)
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.
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.
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. Certainly, the syncopation before the end of the second movement is a bit odd, but Salieri compensates by giving the listener an elegant, concluding movement.
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)