Unfamiliar 18th Century Gems
John S. Levitt | Felton, GA United States | 02/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In spite of its relatively tiny area and population, eighteenth century Bohemia produced an extraordinary number of inspired composers and talented musicians. But while in their day many were highly regarded throughout Europe, received wide-spread popular acclaim, and strongly influenced the development of European classical music, by the 21st century most have become almost forgotten. Those of us who enjoy the more familiar works of the Classical Era do ourselves a disservice if we fail to explore the joys of Mozart's less-known contemporaries. Prague-1770 celebrates the compositions of three such Bohemians, Franz Tuma (1704-1774), Josef Myslivecek (1737-1781), and Leopold Kozeluch (1747-1818). While listening to my satellite TV's classical music station I was introduced to the Larghetto movement of Myslivecek's Sinfonia in Es. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately set out to track down a CD recording on the Internet. Subsequent research revealed that my growing admiration for Josef Myslivecek was shared by none less than Mozart himself who after meeting the Czech in Bologna in 1770 exclaimed, "He exudes fire, spirit and life." There is now little doubt that Myslivecek's style influenced Mozart a great deal in opera, symphonies, and violin concertos. Moreover, it is worthy of note that even before 1767 Myslivecek was already writing the earliest examples of the string quintet, a form that Wolfgang made his own only much later. Too often I've bought a CD in order to obtain a particular piece only to be disappointed with the other 40 to 50 minutes of music on the disc. Good news! While originally I may have purchased the excellent Suk Chamber Orchestra recording only to be able to add the 5-minute, 19-second middle movement (Track 7) to our music library, the entire remaining 65 ½ minutes is also delightful! Teamed with a bottle of red wine and perhaps a good book, Prague-1770 has provided my wife and me with the perfect musical accompaniment in front of a roaring fire. Whether listening carefully with headphones or casually with speakers, this CD is one that any classical music lover is certain to enjoy!"