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Recent Researches in the Music of the Classical Era

Photo of Neal Zaslaw, general editor Neal Zaslaw, general editor

Recent Researches in the Music of the Classical Era includes a rich array of musical sources and genres that originated between roughly 1740 and 1830—the period of Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, to be sure, but also of the music of Bach's sons, Haydn's younger brother Michael, Antonio Salieri, Josef Mysliveček, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Domenico Cimarosa, and a host of other highly skilled composers. To these worthies and their contemporaries, music was divided into three main areas of endeavor—church, chamber, and theater. The volumes in the series provide ample repertory for exploring each of those categories.

Sacred music is the subject of many editions: Latin masses of Antonio Salieri (C039 and C065), Georg Christoph Wagenseil, Georg Reutter, and Leopold Hoffmann (together in C071), and Michael Haydn; Latin motets by Girolamo Abos and Marianna Martines; an Anglican anthem by Thomas Linley; Giovanni Battista Sammartini's Holy Week cantata, Il pianto delle pie donne; and oratorios by Thomas Linley and Johann Martin Kraus.

Chamber music meant domestic music, for before the days of mechanical reproduction of sound those who wanted music in their lives had to play and sing it themselves. Keyboard players will welcome solo repertory by Armand-Louis Couperin, Vogler, and Rodrígez. String quartets by Peter Hänsel, Leopold Kozeluch, Franz Asplmayr, and Carlo d'Ordonez represent the most high-minded domestic repertory. Chamber music for other combinations of instruments include solos, duos, trios, quartets, quintets and sextets by Paul Wranitzky, Carlo Graziani (C049 and C083), Pierre Gaviniés, Étienne Ozi, Georg Wenzel Ritter, Tommaso Giordani, Florian Leopold Gassmann, Franz Christoph Neubauer, Antonio Bartolomeo Bruni, and Franz Benda; there are also dances by Christian Cannabich and partitas for winds by Antonio Rosetti. With English canzonets, songs for children, and a wide selection of arias, chamber-music vocalists are by no means neglected.

Orchestral music overlaps two of the eighteenth century's categories: theaters, where public concerts most often took place, and the private homes of those who could muster enough friends to create a small ensemble. Symphonies otherwise unavailable in modern editions include works by John Marsh, Antonio Brioschi, Jean-François Tapray, Pierre van Maldere, J. C. F. Bach (C015 and C028), Johann Vanhal, C. F. Abel, and Ignaz Pleyel. Taken together, they document the international popularity of symphonies in Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Holland and England.

Orchestral repertory would be sadly lacking without concertos. For the keyboard there are concertos by Johann Samuel Schroeter, Beethoven (not one of those you know!), Giovanni Benedetto Platti, Johann Wilhelm Hertel, Joseph Anton Steffan, and Christoph Nichelmann. Violinists can explore concertos by Joseph Riepel, Giovanni Battista Sammartini, Carlo Tessarini, Maddalena Laura Lombardini Sirmen, Giovanni Battista Viotti, and others. Flutists and violists will also find a concerto each (C067 and C089).

The most glamorous venue for music then as now was of course the opera house. The series offers stage works, unavailable since their eighteenth-century successes, by composers from Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, and England: Franz Xaver Süßmayr and other composers working with Emanuel Schikaneder (C076, and C081), Domenico Cimarosa, Friedrich Reichardt, Lucile Grétry, Johann Friedrich Grenser, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Gian Francesco de Majo, Johann Adolf Hasse, others.

Women composers, so often neglected in histories and editions of music, are represented by the admirable trio of Maddalena Laura Lombardini Sirmen, Lucile Grétry, and Marianna Martines who, despite the obstacles society had in place to keep them from the supposedly masculine activity of composing, managed to produce fine works.

Each volume in the series provides a historical introduction, advice about historical performance practices relevant to the works in question, a critical report, and English translations of foreign texts. Performance parts are also available.


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