Cartellieri: Complete Symphonies / Schmalfuss, Evergreen Symphony Orchestra
Antonio Cartellieri (1772-1807), despite his Italian name, actually was trained in Berlin and Vienna, and his music has all of the best characteristics of Viennese classicism. Indeed, his models are easy to detect: Gluck’s “Dance of the Furies” in the finale of his Symphony No. 1 (in C minor), and Haydn’s Symphony No. 86 in the first movement of Symphony No. 4. Of course, there’s no way to tell if he knew these other pieces, or even when Cartellieri’s were composed. He isn’t exactly a household name, and Gernot Schmalfuss spent something like 10 years looking for two of these works. These four symphonies are all that Cartellieri wrote, evidently.
The Second Symphony is a zippy Italian sinfonia in three movements, but the others have four movements and they are all truly beautiful, full of good tunes and characterful orchestration (especially for the winds). Cartellieri, for all the reminiscences, has a distinctly catchy melodic style that’s very memorable. The music has personality. In the C minor Symphony (No. 1), for example, the outer movements have a welcome degree of contrast and no small measure of genuine passion (sample the opening below). The three minuets also are all quite different from each other, and well suited to their context. They never sound generic.
The performances are terrific. Conductor Schmalfuss is an oboist with the Consortium Classicum, and he certainly knows how to play music of this period. His style is broadly period-influenced, with swift tempos, timpani played with wooden sticks, and energetic rhythms in the quick movements. Textures are utterly transparent but never anaemic. He allows the strings a good measure of warmth in the slow movements, thereby getting the best of both worlds. The Evergreen Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan plays the music extremely well, and the whole production is superbly engineered. This disc is a real find for anyone interested in the Viennese classical style.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: 777667-2
Composer: Antonio Cartellieri
Conductor: Gernot Schmalfuss
Orchestra/Ensemble: Evergreen Symphony Orchestra