Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ignaz von Beecke - an early Classical treasure

[Ignaz von Beecke’s piano concertos], though not particularly difficult, are
uncommonly lovely and ingratiating to the ear."

That was the opinion of music critic Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart writing in the 1780s. And I have to say I agree.

Franz Ignaz von Beecke was a highly regarded composer and performer in the early Classical era (1780s-1800s). He was popular in Paris, applauded by Haydn, and even performed a concerto for piano four hands with Mozart. Von Beecke wrote 15 piano concertos, 27 symphonies, 14 string quartets and many other works. Most were well-received when premiered, and almost all are forgotten today.

Which is why the three concertos on this release are world premiere recordings -- very little of his music has been performed in modern times, much less recorded. These concertos all date from around the 1780s, when von Beecke's popularity was at its peak. The works all have the early classical aesthetic of elegant balance. As Schubart points out, the solo piano parts aren't particularly challenging. But that's not von Beecke's goal.

Von Beecke's music is that of restrained beauty. Stylistically, he's more advanced than Johann Christian Bach, with some hints of early romanticism in some of his harmonies. Although von Beecke uses a standard 18th-century orchestra, he uses the winds and brass in some interesting ways (for the time).

Pianist Nataša Veljkovic plays with delicacy and charm. Johnnaes Moesus and the Bavarian Chamber Orchestra of Bad Brückenau deliver performances that are both transparent in texture and brimming with good humor.

If you're a fan of early Haydn and Mozart or late JC Bach you should find much to like in the music of Ignaz von Beecke. These concertos are indeed "uncommonly lovely."

Kudos to CPO for these world premiere recordings of Ignaz von Beecke's piano concertos. Now, how about some of his symphonies, please?

Ignaz von Beecke: Piano Concertos
world premiere recordings
Nataša Veljkovic, piano
The Bavarian Chamber Orchestra of Bad Brückenau; Johannes Moesus, conductor
CPO 777 827-2

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