Eggert: Symphonies Nos 1 & 3; Incidental Music to Svante Sture

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There are few things in music more exhilarating than a cleverly worked-out, quick orchestral fugue. Successful ones are rare. When the catchy and humorous second subject of the finale of Eggert’s First Symphony (1804-5) takes off on a contrapuntal chase, you might be forgiven for thinking, “Oh no, not again!” But have no fear. Eggert knows what he is doing (sound clip). His astonishingly virtuosic scoring and control of texture not only preserves the music’s humor and spirit, it actually enhances it. Even the bass drum contributes a solo. Yes, you heard that right–the bass drum–and in a symphony roughly contemporary with Beethoven’s “Eroica.”

Joachim Eggert (1779-1813) clearly was a progressive, and his imaginative use of percussion throughout the work is just one piece of evidence for this. He was also a contrapuntist of great ease and naturalness. Three of the finales of his four symphonies contain fugues, demonstrating not just compositional skill but also his concern for balance between the individual movements. Indeed, the finale of the Third Symphony is nothing else but a fugue, and the structure of the work–three movements, including a very expansive opening and brief central march–is quite unconventional but wholly convincing nonetheless.

If the overture to The Moors in Spain reminds us a bit of Mozart’s Seraglio, it’s none the worse for that, while the incidental music to Svante Sture, in eight short movements, obviously gives Eggert less time to work his orchestral magic, but it’s pleasant listening all the same. Obviously the symphonies are the main items, and wonderful pieces they are. Gérard Korsten plays them with proprietary relish, and the orchestra responds enthusiastically to his leadership. This is an important release of really first-rate classical music, happily quite well recorded. You owe it to yourself to hear it.

– ClassicsToday (David Hurwitz)

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8572457

  • UPC: 747313245772

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Joachim Nikolas Eggert

  • Conductor: Gerard Korsten

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Gavle Symphony Orchestra