Antonio Rosetti. Bohemian Mutineer
July-August 2009, "American Record Guide" magazine
Born in Bohemia somewhere around 1750, Rosetti died in Germany in 1792. Most of his life was spent in minor German courts, well away from large cities. Even so, Charles Burney, the well traveled British music historian ranked him at the same level as Haydn and Mozart. Though his life was relatively short, he composed a large amount of music, including over 40 symphonic, and 60 concertos for various instruments. His mature works use a colorful harmonic language that is rich in chromatic inflection. He was influenced by late 18th Century French music and the Mannheim School, as well as by Haydn.
The most exciting work here is his Horn Concerto in D minor. We are told that his writing for wind instruments was "out of this world". This work truly is "out of this world" as it use all sorts of extraordinary figures. Soloist Helen MacDougall plays extremely well on her valveless horn, which is one of the best I have heard. And there also horns in the orchestral scoring, which is rather unusual. I have eight other Rosetti horn concertos, but this is the first recording of this one, and it has instantly become my favorite.
The Violin Concerto in D minor is also a superb work with a finely written solo part that wanders all over the dramatic scale. It is better than any of Haydn's violin concertos and easily as good as most of Mozart's. Dmitri Sinkovsky plays it with spectacular vibrancy. I have one other recording of this concerto, which is coupled with another of Rosetti's violin concertos on CPO 777028, but this is a more exciting reading of it.
The two symphonies here give me a total of 21 of his symphonies. All are well written, but these performances are exceptional. I do have one on MDG 3291036 of the one in D, but Johannes Moesus doesn't do as good a job with it as he did on the violin concerto disc. The Pratum Integrum Orchestra, which is evidently based in Moscow and is the only period instrument group in Russia, is nothing short of superb in all four of these works. Roth symphonies are quite original and memorable. They were written in 1782 and 1787 after Rosetti returned from his trip to Paris.
Cam Mitis discs are Russian made and are very well presented. The recordings are among the best SACDs I have heard. The notes fill nine pages in a decent-sized type and are very well written and translated. The value is definitely outstanding. This is one of my favorites this month.