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Descriptions du produit
Musique austro hongroise des 16e & 17e Siècles, de Fux, Schmelzer, Caioni, Behram, Szirmay-Kecser, Madach-Rimay
Ensemble Accentus Austria : Thomas Wimmer
Antonio Brioschi (Milan 1725-1750)
Ensemble Atalanta Fugiens dir . Vanni Moretto
Commentaires en ligne
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Archivio della sinfonia milanese Vol. 4 (Vol. II of Brioschi Symphonies)
Symphony in B flat major, Op. V n.226 (ca. 1744)
Symphony in G major, Op. II n.59 (ca. 1741)
Symphony in E flat major, Op. V n.206 (ca. 1744)
Symphony in B flat major, Op. II n.80 (ca. 1741)
Symphony in B flat major, Op. III n.148 (ca. 1744)
Symphony in E flat major, Op. VI n.295 (ca. 1740)
Atalanta Fugiens, Vanni Moretto, dir. (all symphonies have fast-slow-fast movement structures)
Antonio Brioschi (fl. c. 1725-1750) was an Italian composer who wrote at least twenty six symphonies, though some sources put the number at more than 50. The precise count is complicated by his bad habit of calling his symphonies other names, such as sonata, overture or trio. Haydn was much more diligent in the numbering of his symphonies, but in his case numerous music publishers of the time created confusion by printing symphonies by other composers under his name because that way they would sell better. Though most of the questions regarding the spurious works by Haydn were sorted out by H.C. Robbins Landon in the last century, some confusion still reigns even in our day.
Brioschi was a pioneer in symphonic music in the early Classical period along with Sammartini, though the latter is much better known. He appears to have been active in or near Milan, but the exact place of his birth and death are not known. What little we do know is that Brioschi was active from 1725 to 1750 in Casale Monferrato, which lies in provincia di Alessandria, in the far east-central Piemonte. Brioschi seems to have been involved with the musical life of the Jewish community in Casale Monferrato, since one of the rare details known about him is that in 1733, a Jewish cantata was performed for the inauguration of the Synagogue of Casale Monferrato, which was preceded by a symphony in G major by Brioschi. Furthermore, the link to Casale is also confirmed by the presence of two symphony manuscripts, dated 1734, in the public library of Casale Monferrato.
The symphonic school in Milan gathered around the authoritative figure of Sammartini and included composers whose names are totally unknown to general audiences like Brioschi, Ferdinando Galimberti and Giovanni Battista Lampugnani. Brioschi's works, like those of the better-known Sammartini, had a certain popularity in Europe at the time and many of his symphonies and other works were published in London and Paris. This fact makes it even more astounding that we know so little about him.
What we do know is that Brioschi was an exponent of the Milanese symphonic school, led by the aforementioned Giovanni Battista Sammartini, and was thus one of the first composers of what could be termed "symphonies," though they were all in three movements without a menuet. As such, they are not significantly different from opera overtures of the period, except perhaps in their duration and scale. J.C. Bach, another early proponent of the symphony who had picked up the craft in Milan and Bologna, would publish six of his opera overtures written at different times as his six Symphonies Op. 18. Bach's individual Symphonies in the Op. 18 set last close to 20 minutes each and two of them are for double orchestra. In comparison, Vivaldi's opera overtures rarely exceed 8 minutes in duration even though they, like Bach's, are in three movements, fast-slow-fast. Together with the innovations of the Mannheim School initiated by Johann Stamitz, which included the addition of a menuet to the three fast-slow-fast movements of the early symphonies, the Milanese and Mannheim styles eventually coalesced into the Viennese Classical style of the later Haydn and Mozart symphonies (to mention the two best-known composers among a fairly extensive number of fellow symphonic composers in Vienna, London and Paris).
The symphonies on this CD were copied between ca. 1740 and ca. 1744 by Charles Estien for Pierre Philibert de Blancheton (1697-1756), a music patron and member of the Parliament of Metz from 1724. This is why the opus numbers and estimated dates of composition are somewhat incongruous. In Brioschi's symphonies, as is the case with early Symphonies by Sammartini, we are still predominantly in the baroque style. The Symphonies are all for string orchestra with basso continuo, frequently use suspension dissonances and sequencing.
These symphonies were written between 1740 and 1744, before Johann Stamitz's Orchestral Trios Op. 1 were published in Paris in 1754 (though Stamitz had begun writing symphonies in 8 parts well before then). The listener will notice that violins are supported by repeated notes in the bass, a dominant feature of later classicism and something cellists curse to this day because their parts are so boring to play and the violins get all the good tunes. The melodic material in the violins is a bit more gallant - or rather Neapolitan - than Handel's Concerti Grossi Op. 6 from 1739, but that's more a question of Brioschi giving in to the new Neapolitan style which was then coming into international vogue. Composers either moved with the times or died hungry and in debt like Vivaldi. Handel and Bach were to an extent "protected" from having to embrace such innovation with completely open arms. Handel because he composed biblical oratorios, more or less exclusively engaged himself in from 1740 and Bach, because he mostly composed church music. When it came to religious entertainment a level of conservatism was OK. Not so in Opera and secular music in general.
Indeed, Brioschi's symphonies often remind one of Vivaldi, especially in the slow movements, which is a trait he shares with Sammartini. The slow movements of these works also make far more use of minor keys than would be the norm just 10 years later even though they stick to what would become standard practice in the classical period by all being in a major key (To my knowledge, the extremely prolific high classicist Carl Stamitz, son of Johann, never wrote a single piece that begins in a minor key). Those expecting a Stamitzian or J.C. Bachian level of early classicism will be disappointed by these works. If viewed as progressive concerti grossi, on the other hand, these six symphonies (more in name than in sound) are very charming and entertaining. One can hear how the music slips from a thoroughly baroque idiom that Vivaldi or Locatelli would nod approvingly of to a hint of something new, a southern wind from Naples, where Pergolesi would have nodded approvingly if he hadn't been put 8 feet under in 1735 in a campo santo at the tender age of 25.
Where Broschi makes his greatest contribution towards the future development of all music and not just the symphonies of the classical era is in his organization of structure of the musical material which is presented in his works. All the outer, fast movements are two-part structures. Each part is repeated and the movements can therefore be described as "extended two-reprise" forms. Part I of every movement corresponds to a sonata-form exposition: it introduces the thematic material and articulates the harmonic movement from the tonic to the dominant key. An authentic cadence in the secondary key ends Part I of all these movements.
Part II of all the opening movements and a majority of the finales contains a development section followed by a recapitulation section. The recapitulation opens with a double return of the tonic key and the expository primary thematic. What takes place later in the recapitulation section does not fully exemplify some definitions of classical sonata form; In Brioschi, the musical material coming after the restatement of the primary theme or themes is often reformulated; yet reformulated or not, the material adheres to the tonic key, which is a key characteristic of the classical sonata form.
Thus, these movements feature a two-part harmonic plan--Parts I and II--combined with a three-part thematic plan--exposition, development, and recapitulation sections. This same layout is the basic construction of the sonata-form stereotype as perceived today. [Quoted in part from "The Symphonies of Antonio Brioschi: Aspects of Sonata Form" by Sarah Mandel-Yehuda. Interested readers will find a much more detailed examination of Brioschi's music online under the above title and name. I am indebted to the author for writing a very interesting and meticulously thorough analysis of Brioschi's symphonies.]
The playing of Atalanta Fugiens under Vanni Moretto is as always exemplary of how a period orchestra should sound and perform. Their playing is always perfectly in tune and their phrasing clear and distinct. The artists make Brioschi's symphonies come to a sparkling rebirth. If their playing is not as impactful as in, say, their album of Zappa's Six Symphonies, then it is solely due to the musical material they have to work with. Brioschi, as is often the case with Sammartini as well, emphasized elegance and lightness in his music, often at the cost of energy and sheer musical impact. An orchestra cannot deliver what is not in the music. If, at times, Brioschi's symphonies are somewhat lacking in musical gravitas, then be it upon the composer's head and not on the musicians. For sheer musical genius of the transitional period between the baroque and classical styles, the undisputed genius, in my opinion as well as of Beethoven and quite a few other composers, is and will remain C.P.E. Bach. There are no operas in the 875 works composed by CPE in the Helm catalog, so one must by necessity defer in that field to Gluck and perhaps also give Hasse a nod along the way. Let's hope these wonderful musicians quickly get engaged in some major opera or other recordings of more substantial works. For when they do, it will no doubt be thrilling.
The recording technicians and producer deserve an A for the sound quality, presence and balance between instrumental groups for this recording. There is no fault to be found here, and the DHM sound is splendid.
For everyone's effort - despite my minor reservations about Brioschi as a composer - in making rare music come back to life a 5 star rating of this CD is easily merited.