Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Scheibe: Sinfonias

This is a very welcome reissue from 1994. Leipzig-born Johann Adolph Scheibe (1708-1776) became the most important and renowned composer in Denmark after settling there in 1740. Though recognized as an astute music theorist and critic, most of Scheibe's extraordinarily prolific oeuvre remains lost today; and it's a shame because if these often engaging Sinfonias are even remotely representative, he also was an inspired, innovative, and highly accomplished composer.

For instance, after a sublime sinfonia-length Introduzzione that begins the program, the Sinfonia à 4 in B-flat major immediately impresses with an opening Allegro and final Presto that anticipates Haydn more than it relies on baroque convention. The same can be said of the third movement of the Sinfonia in B minor with its advanced use of brass and percussion to build momentum and to delineate rhythm. The gorgeous Presto that concludes another Sinfonia à 4, this time in A major, features a sweeping use of strings and a melodic thrust worthy of Mozart. While other more well known mid-18th-century composers have been lauded for bridging the gap between the Baroque and Classical periods, Scheibe's influence both in his writings and his compositions, as shown in these brilliant Sinfonias, should not be discounted.

While not possessing quite the degree of immediacy and presence captured in later recordings in its "Chaconne" series, Chandos' sound is very good--well balanced and natural. Andrew Manze and the Concerto Copenhagen deliver expert, knowing performances throughout. Anyone interested in music of this period--especially those unfamiliar with Scheibe--shouldn't hesitate to give this one a listen. --John Greene, ClassicsToday.com

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