Friday, February 19, 2010

More on Johnann Wilhelm Wilms; not quite another Beethoven!


While I won’t review every one of my classical CD’s (they go back to 1985, with the first being “Also sprach Zarathustra”, Richard Strauss and Maazel, on London), I was pleased that Amazon (even despite the blizzard) shipped early the budget-priced “Brilliant Classics” CD of the Symphonies 6 and 7 by Johann Wilhelm Wilms. The Concerto Koln (Cologne Concert Orchestra) is conducted by Werner Ehrhardt, and the sound is a bit Norrington-like. Tempos tend to be a bit brisk.

The Sixth in D minor has opus number 58, and was published in 1823. In D Minor, the last movement of the work has a lilting fugato theme (Rondo: Allegro molto) that will sound “familiar” immediately. How many obscure works find their way into Hollywood scores? Maybe this is another one. But it’s Symphony #7 that is supposed to be Wilms’s answer to the bridge between classicism and Romanticism. In C Minor, it opens, after a slow introduction, with a complicated exposition which is repeated, but then the development (starting out in major), recapitulation and coda telescope into one massive thrust. The slow movement has a suspiciously familiar Schubert-like theme in triple time. The Finale returns to triumphant C Major and echoes the mood of Beethoven’s Leonore Overture music.

When I ordered the CD, I thought, “good”, two “Beethoven-like” symphonies in minor keys (the same as used by Beethoven). But Wilms #7 is still no Beethoven 5th.

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