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Louis Spohr - Die Klarinettenkonzerte 1-4 (1984)

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Konzert Nr. 1 C-Moll Op. 26	
A1		Adagio - Allegro	11:07
A2		Adagio	3:26
A3		Rondo. Vivace	6:03

Konzert Nr. 2 Es-Dur Op. 57	
B1		Allegro	11:41
B2		Adagio	5:03
B3		Rondo. Vivace	7:52

Konzert Nr. 3 F-Moll WoO 19	
C1		Allegro Moderato	11:11
C2		Adagio	9:08
C3		Vivace Non Troppo	7:49

Konzert Nr. 4 E-Moll WoO 20	
D1		Allegro Vivace	11:05
D2		Larghetto	7:37
D3		Rondo Al Espagnol	8:08

Karl Leister - clarinet
Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart
Rafael Frühbeck De Burgos - conductor


In the 1830s, Spohr was commonly considered undisputedly the greatest living composer. He was inspired to write his four clarinet concertos, which have always ranked among Spohr's most popular works, by his acquaintance with the Thuringian clarinettist Johann Simon Hermstedt. Up to today, the decidedly virtuoso clarinet concertos have been a challenge for any clarinet soloist, as they mirror Spohr's view of the form of the solo concerto as a projection surface to flaunt technical skill in an ideal symbiosis with the poetic and lyrical contents of the music. On this release, the works are performed by Karl Leister.Karl Leister began his solo career as a clarinetist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan in 1959. At the same time his international career as a soloist and chamber musician began. He is one of the founders of the ensembles Blaser der Berliner Philharmoniker, Berliner Solisten as well as the Ensemble Wien-Berlin. Since the foundation of the Herbert von Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Karl Leister has been teaching the young generation.


During his lifetime Spohr was acclaimed as a great composer, and he embraced every genre with enthusiasm, composing ten operas, ten symphonies and the other genres in proportion. Since then his star has fallen badly and you will be lucky to find any of his works programmed. I have to say that most of the little I have heard has been rather bland: obviously very competent but rather lacking in character, like second-rate Mendelssohn.

These clarinet concertos, however, are different: they are all delightful pieces, full or charm and wit. As with Mozart, whom Spohr greatly admired, he was inspired by a particular player, in this case Johann Simon Hermstedt. Spohr met him playing the Mozart clarinet quintet, in which Spohr himself played first violin. He started working on the first concerto and invited Hermstedt to suggest any modifications. The concerto was actually unplayable on the clarinet as it then was, but, instead of making alterations, Hermstedt commissioned a new instrument with more keys on which he could play it as it stood. Spohr went on to write three further concertos for Hermstedt, as well as some other pieces.

These concertos all follow a similar pattern, with three movements, the first in sonata form, then a lyrical slow movement and an energetic rondo. Obviously Spohr knew Mozart’s concerto, the finest work ever written for the instrument, and occasionally this shows, but he departs from Mozart in his first movements, which do not use the double exposition typical of the classical concerto but the looser form also used by Weber in his clarinet concertos. Nor does he provide places for cadenzas, as he disapproved of them. However, the writing for the solo instrument is very virtuosic, with leaps, trills and runs as well as the sudden switches between registers which are very much in the character of the clarinet. The second concerto exploits extremes of register, ascending at one point to the very high C. The third is, if anything, even more virtuosic. The fourth is perhaps the finest of the four, because of the quality of its ideas. It is, incidentally, the only one to be written for clarinet in A. The fact that the third and fourth concertos do not have opus numbers is because Hermstedt held on to the manuscripts so Spohr could not publish them. It is, in fact, only quite recently that the scores have been published. Note that the concertos are not laid out in chronological order.

Karl Leister, the soloist here, was for many years principal clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic under Karajan, and he made numerous recordings. He has a lovely liquid tone and expressive phrasing, as well as all the virtuosity you could wish for. Frühbeck de Burgos and the Radio-Sinfonie Orchester Stuttgart accompany well, and, despite these being very early digital recordings, I have no complaints about the sound. The booklet is very brief but it does not matter. The discs are slightly short measure but the layout is obviously sensible.

There are other recordings of these concertos, notably Michael Collins on two Hyperion discs now at a reduced price. I have not heard those, but a point in Leister’s favour is that he plays a German-style clarinet, slightly more soulful and less perky than the French-style instruments used elsewhere. These works have raised my opinion of Spohr, and readers can invest with confidence. ---Stephen Barber,

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]]> (bluesever (Bogdan Marszałkowski)) Spohr Louis Sat, 17 Apr 2021 09:43:50 +0000
Louis Spohr - Complete Piano Trios (1995) Louis Spohr - Complete Piano Trios (1995)

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Disc: 1
1. Pno Trio No.1 in e Op.119: Moderato
2. Pno Trio No.1 in e Op.119: Larghetto
3. Pno Trio No.1 in e Op.119: Scherzo
4. Pno Trio No.1 in e Op.119: Finale. Vivace
5. Pno Trio No.2 in F Op.123: Allegro
6. Pno Trio No.2 in F Op.123: Larghetto
7. Pno Trio No.2 in F Op.123: Scherzo
8. Pno Trio No.2 in F Op.123: Finale. Vivace

Disc: 2
1. Pno Trio No.3 in a Op.124: Allegro Moderato
2. Pno Trio No.3 in a Op.124: Andante Con Var
3. Pno Trio No.3 in a Op.124: Scherzo
4. Pno Trio No.3 in a Op.124: Finale. Presto
5. Pno Trio No.4 in B Op.133: Allegro
6. Pno Trio No.4 in B Op.133: Menuetto
7. Pno Trio No.4 in B Op.133: Poco Adagio
8. Pno Trio No.4 in B Op.133: Finale. Presto

Disc: 3
1. Pno Trio No.5 in g Op.142: Allegro Vivace
2. Pno Trio No.5 in g Op.142: Adagio
3. Pno Trio No.5 in g Op.142: Scherzo
4. Pno Trio No.5 in g Op.142: Finale. Allegro Molto

Ravensburg Beethoven Trio


His first Trio in E minor, Op.119 was completed in May, 1841,and appeared to rapturous acclaim by the critics so that his publisher was soon asking for more. It was not for nothing that the trio was published as Trio Concertant, for, as one reviewer pointed out: "Through all the details of its construction, even to the manner of using the instruments in combination, it has no parallel in the trios of Beethoven, Hummel, Mendelssohn, or any other writer." It was Spohr's specialist knowledge of string techniques which enabled him to give the violin and cello equality with the piano and also to introduce novel sonorities which earlier trio composers scarcely envisaged, such as at times giving the cello the real bass of the ensemble with the pianist's left hand playing well above it.

The very opening of the Piano Trio No.1 in E minor, Op. 119 exemplifies the quintessential Spohr emotion of wistful pathos and the work as a whole is a fine expression of its composer's artistic personality. A firmer tone is injected by the march-like second subject which then accompanies scintillating bravura passages - part of the trio's "concertant" ambience. The contrasting moods of the two main themes are closely intertwined until the restrained conclusion. The broad lyrical theme (there is only one) of the slow movement develops a declamatory intensity as it is presented in a variety of settings; again, peace reigns at the end. The Scherzo was an immediate hit; one reviewer wrote: "One wants to hear it again and again" and it has been described both as almost a forerunner of a Slavonic Dance and as jazzily syncopated. In contrast, its Trio has a waltz-like tune on the strings along with a brilliant display by the piano. The finale draws together many strands with a fiery main theme, a more relaxed second subject, possible hints of both the first movement and Scherzo and - a magical moment - the return of the slow movement melody. The closing bars arrive at a peaceful and beautiful resolution.


The Piano Trio No. 2 in F major, Op.123, which dates from April, 1842, is Spohr's grandest work in the form, being laid out on the largest scale. His intentions are signalled by the powerful opening while the second subject offers another example of imaginative scoring. The slow movement is one of the most remarkable creations in all Spohr, demonstrating to the full the unique sonorities the composer is able to draw from his ensemble. The tension is screwed tight until the thirteenth bar when the violin, silent till then, steals in as a consolatory middle voice. Later comes a dramatic outburst which the strings attempt to pacify with a version of the main theme. The Scherzo is both catchy and slightly grotesque, being followed by a perky Trio which Spohr cleverly integrates into the Scherzo repeat. The finale opens in the minor with a "travelling" theme while the second subject is one of those inspirations which" fall from heaven" .The final homecoming is decisive - "Spohr has not appeared so young and hearty for a long time" as one reviewer put it.

Spohr wrote in virtually every genre, not the least being chamber music. He composed some 36 string quartets, 7 string quintets, five piano trios, four double quartets and several other chamber pieces. His teaching assistant related that as the 1830's he bemoaned his lack of ability on the piano and said that he would gladly trade a year's salary to be able to play the piano well. Spohr was truly a great man of many skills (mountaineer, hiker, painter et. al.), and nothing if not determined. Sometime during the late 1830's he undertook a rigorous course of study of the instrument and by the 1840's had become a good, if not great, pianist. The main result of this was that he was able to compose chamber works with piano, such as his Piano Trio No.3, which were to have lasting value


Piano Trio No.3 was completed 1842 and published not long after. The dramatic opening of the Allegro moderato, begins with a theme of pathos. This is immediately followed by a highly romantic theme. In the second movement,Andante con variazione, Spohr chooses a fine folk ballad for his theme, which proves capable of withstanding the wide-ranging treatment it is given. The Scherzo which comes next is of the sort in which Spohr was a master. It might be called the flip-side of the Mendelssohnian scherzo with its elves and fairies. Spohr's scherzos are haunted and tend to feature ghosts and ogres. The constrasting trio is more ethereal. The finale, Presto, seems to take up where the Scherzo leaves and begins with a haunted "march of the goblins." Full of exciting and bizarre twists and turns, it provides an excellent conclusion to what is one of Spohr's very best chamber works.

"The first movemment over, a murmur of praise and favourable criticism ran trough the audience. According to all, Spohr had newly imbided the waters of rejuvenescence. The minuetto evidences the pecularities of Spohr's genius, but is hardly so much as the allegro, a spontaneous inspiration. It presents some highly effective passages for the pianoforte, which were interpreted by Mr. Sloper in a masterly manner. The adagio is an exquisite movement, the subject clear and elegant, and varied in the most charming manner possible; the dialoguing of the violin and the violincello is managed with the happiest effect. The entitre movement is in every way worthy of Spohr's genius in its loftiest moments. The last movement, Presto, is as bright and fleeting as a flash of lightning. We shall have occasion by-and-by to speak more largely of this work ; at present we can hardly allude to it impartially, so deeply were we impressed with it on a first hearing. The Trio gave most intense delight to all present, and there was but one opinion expressed as to its merits. "


Piano Trio No.5 in G minor, Op. 142, dates from October, 1849, at a time when Spohr's enthusiasm for the March, 1848, German revolution was turning to disappointment as the forces of repression began to regain control. In contrast to the joyful atmosphere radiating from his C major String Sextet composed in March-April 1848, "at the time of the glorious people's revolution", as Spohr himself entered in his catalogue of works, the trio is more disturbed. March-like rhythms predominate in the urgent opening movement, where both of the main themes are built from the same material. In contrast, nobility sings out in the Adagio while the Scherzo mixes a somewhat sinister quirkiness with the playfulness of its Trio section. The finale is even more unsettled than the first movement, especially in the central development and, despite a more optimistic second subject which follows a bridge passage built on an ominous ostinato in the strings, the G minor tonality returns at the end when the music subsides on a note of resigned acceptance. ---

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]]> (bluesever) Spohr Louis Sat, 31 Jul 2010 20:43:21 +0000
Louis Spohr - Octet in E major, op. 32 (2000) Louis Spohr - Octet in E major, op. 32 (2000)

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[1] I.   Adagio - Allegro                            6:22
[2] II.  Menuetto: Allegro                           5:21
[3] III. Andante con variazioni: Thema di Händel     7:25
[4] IV.  Finale: Allegretto                          5:48 

Wiener Oktett 
Willi Boskovsky violin - Günther Breitenbach viola I 
Philipp Matheis viola II - Nikolaus Hübner cello 
Johann Krump double bass - Alfred Boskovsky clarinet 
Josef Veleba horn I - Otto Nitsch horn II 

Recorded: March 1959, Sofiensaal, Vienna


The Octet, with its unusual but richly sonorous ensemble, has an almost orchestral range of tone colors. A slow introduction, somber but brief, previews both of the opening movement’s important themes: a wide-interval but smooth motive and a dotted-rhythm, neighboring-tone figure. The tonality brightens for the main theme, which is introduced by the horn and echoed by clarinet and violin. The violin is assigned some brilliant passagework in the transition to the subsidiary subject (Spohr did not deny himself the chance to show off his gifts as a performer in this composition), in which the dotted-rhythm figure is given melodic interest. The development section is not long but includes references to all of the thematic materials. A full recapitulation and a coda built on the main theme round out the movement. Though Spohr called the second movement Menuetto, this is really a scherzo, with a wistful, elfin quality familiar from similar pieces by Felix Mendelssohn (who turned five in Berlin in 1814, the year of this Octet); the mellow central trio is led by the horns. The work’s third movement is a set of variations on the well-known theme from Hande’s Harpsichord Suite No. 5 in E Major, popularly known as the Harmonious Blacksmith. “According to the wish of Herr von Tost, who was then contemplating a journey to England,” Spohr explained, “I took up a theme from Handel, varied and carried it out thematically, as he was of the opinion that it would on that account excite great interest in that country.” The movement works upon Handel’s procession-like theme with six variations that allow both variety of mood and virtuosity of execution. The finale is a spacious rondo built on a genial melody of folkish character. --- Dr. Richard E. Rodda,

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]]> (bluesever) Spohr Louis Thu, 15 May 2014 16:20:10 +0000
Louis Spohr – Faust (1995) Louis Spohr – Faust (1995)

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1. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Ouvertüre 
2. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 1. Introduction. In Sinnenlust so sinnlos leben 
3. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 1. Duet. Ha! du wähntset, armer Tor 
4. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 1a. Recitative. Der Hölle selbst will ich Segen entringen 
5. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 1a. Aria. Liebe ist die zarte Blüte 	                   play
6. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 2. Aria & Chorus. Der Wein erfreut des Menschen Herz 
7. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 3. Duet. Folg dem Freunde mit Vertrauen 
8. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 4. Duet & Chorus. Nur der ist frei, der nichts zu lieben hat 	
9. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 5. Scene. Die stille Nacht entweicht 
10. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 5. Aria. Ja ich fühl' es, treue Liebe 
11. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 6. Scene. Beflügle den Lauf, zögernde Sonne! 
12. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 6. Aria & Chorus. Ja, hoffe Kunigunde! 
13. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 7. Trio. Ich kann nicht ruh'n, ich kann nicht rasten 
14. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 1. No. 8. Finale. Nun wohlan! Ich halte Wort
Faust - Bo Skovhus

1. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 9. Introduction 
2. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 9. Scene (Blocksbergszene). Brenne Laterne! Nahe und ferne dämmere auf! 
3. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 10. Chorus. Sende Himmel Segens Fülle 
4. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 11. Cavatina. Dürft ich mich nennen sein eigen 	
5. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 12. Adagio 	
6. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 13. Scene. Wie ist mir! Welch ein Zwist erhebt sich 
7. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 13. Aria. Blöder Tor! Ich kann hier fragen! 
8. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 13a. Scene. Ich bin allein, des Abend Nähe regt die Tätigkeit 
9. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 13a. Aria. Wie dich nennen, seltsam neues Sehnen 
10. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 14. Duet & Chorus. Lang mögen die Teueren leben 	
11. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 14. Sextet & Chorus. Ich freue mich des Anteils 
12. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 15. Aria. Stille noch dies Wutverlangen 
13. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 15. Scene. In nächtlicher Stille, beim Zirpen der Grille 
14. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 16. Aria. Welch ein Wahn hat mich verblendet                   	play
15. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 16. Scene. Er naht, bald ist erreicht mein Ziel 
16. Faust, opera, WoO 51, WoO 51a: Act 2. No. 16. Finale. Verlassen! allein! Weh mir!
Mephistopheles - Franz Hawlata
Graf Hugo - Robert Swensen
Kunigunde - Hillevi Martinpelto
Gulf - Alfred Reiter
Röschen - Brigitte Wohlfarth
Franz - Christoph Späh
Sycorax - Martina Borst
Kaylinger - Alfred Reiter
Wohlhaldt - Rodrigo Porrego
Wagner - Ulrich Wand

SWR Radio Orchestra Kaiserslautern
Klaus Arp - director, 1993


Looking to fill out a triad of operas on the Faust theme, I was seeking for one to complement Gounod's Faust and Boito's Mefistofele. Deciding that Berlioz' Damnation de Faust is more notable for its orchestral music than for voices, I jumped at the chance to purchase Spohr's 1816 opera for several reasons. I liked the idea of complementing Gounod's French and Boito's Italian works with a German opera in Goethe's language. Another factor is that Spohr is one of those 19th century composers like Anton Rubenstein and Joachim Raff neglected in the 20th century for no very good reasons. A third consideration is that 1816 is the same year that author-composer E. T. A. Hoffmann premiered his Undine. Together Undine and Faust establish a trend toward setting works of the Romantic period such as Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor based on a novel by Scott. As it turns out, Spohr's work has been called the first Romantic German opera, a distinction that is also given to Weber's Der Freischutz in 1821. As for "first Romantic operas" in general, the same claim has been made for Meyerbeer's Robert L'Diable in 1831. So we can take our pick of 1816, 1821 or 1831.

The overture of Spohr's opera is a bright, vigorous work that immediately turns memorable because of its development of a persistent five-note phrase. The first scene between Faust and Mephisto begins with a lightly orchestrated waltz intended to represent a party. This feature recalls the party scene in Mozart's Don Giovanni, evidently a Spohr favorite. A particularly striking performance is Robert Swenson's as Count Hugo in a recitative-aria sequence where the man hopes to rescue his beloved Kunigunde by besieging the castle of her captor Gulf. In the traditional ensemble in the finale of Act I, Hugo, Faust and Mephisto wail away in heroic fashion as Hugo sings that Gulf should be introduced to the tortures of hell. Gulf belongs in a fiery gulf.

As though that were not enough, Spohr brings on the preternatural in Act II in anticipation of Der Freischutz and Robert L'Diable. Romanticism comes alive in the presence of diabolical evil in an implicit attempt to counteract the epicureanism of Franklin and Jefferson. Spohr's second act opens in a pensive, ominous minor key but without the unforgettably bizarre effects of Weber's Wolf's Glen. Spohr's chorus of witches sounds rather jolly as they celebrate the light of a lamp at night. Or is the lamp supposed to be metaphor for the moon? These German Romantic operas all seem full of moonlight. Faust and Mephisto arrive on the scene like Weber's Max and Kaspar at Wolf's Glen to draw on the offices of the iron-voiced demon Samiel. There is no question that Weber's atmospherics are more developed than Spohr's; but 1816 was a beginning. As Hoffmann has one of his characters sing, "Nachts im Walde wohnen Spuk"-- "At night in the forest dwell spooks." The Romantic operas pay them a visit. --- John D. Pilkey "Puluga II",


Faust is an opera by the German composer Louis Spohr. The libretto, by Josef Karl Bernard, is based on the legend of Faust; it is not influenced by Goethe's Faust, though Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy had been published in 1808. Instead, Carl Bernard's libretto draws mainly on Faust plays and poems by Maximilian Klinger and Heinrich von Kleist. Spohr's Faust is an important work in the history of German Romantic opera.

Spohr had left his court appointment at Gotha and taken up a post in Vienna at the Theater An der Wien, which had recently been purchased by Count Ferdinand Palffy von Erdöd. He composed the opera in less than four months, May to September 1813 but had difficulties with count Palffy that interfered with getting it staged in Vienna. Though he took the manuscript score privately to Giacomo Meyerbeer, who played it, with Spohr singing— supplementing his vocal range by whistling— it was not until Carl Maria von Weber took an interest in the score that it received its premiere. Weber conducted the first performance of Faust at the Ständetheater, Prague on 1 September 1816. Meyerbeer introduced it at Berlin.

In its original form, the opera was a Singspiel in two acts. In 1851, Spohr turned the piece into a grand opera in three acts, replacing the spoken dialogue with recitative. This "version (in an Italian translation) received its premiere at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, London on 15 July 1852. The Bielefeld Opera rediscovered Faust in 1993 in the first staged production world-wide since 1931. Conducted by Geoffrey Moull and directed by Matthias Oldag, the opera was given 8 performances and subsequently recorded for CPO.

Synopsis Faust is torn between his love for the young Röschen and his desire for Kunigunde, the fiancée of Count Hugo. He makes a pact with the devil Mefistofeles which allows him to rescue Kunigunde from the clutches of the evil knight Gulf. Faust obtains a love potion from the witch Sycorax which he gives to Kunigunde during her wedding celebrations. Outraged at the sudden passion his bride shows for Faust, Count Hugo challenges him to a duel. Faust kills Hugo and flees. Meanwhile, Faust's first love, Röschen, drowns herself in despair. Mefistofeles seizes Faust and drags him down to Hell.

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]]> (bluesever) Spohr Louis Fri, 15 Jul 2011 18:48:33 +0000
Louis Spohr – Jessonda (1994) Louis Spohr – Jessonda (1994)

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01. Ouverture
02. Act One.Intro:'Kalt Und Starr,Doch Majestatisch'–Chor,Kurt Moll
03. Rezitativ: 'Nadori! Du Hast Dem Opfer Dich Entzogen?' - Kurt Moll,Thomas Moser
04. Rezitativ:'Was Bringst Du?”,'Der Auf Morgen-,Abendgluthen'- Kurt Moll,Chor
05. Rezitativ: 'O Schwester, Stille Deine Thranen' - Julia Varady,Renate Behle
06. Rezitativ Und Arie: 'Als In Mitternacht'ger Stunde'-'Die Ihr Fuhlende Betrubet'- Julia Varady
07. Rezitativ: 'Erhaben Ist's, So Still Zu Leiden' - Renate Behle,Julia Varady
08. Finale: 'So Wie Das Rohr Zerbrach' - Thomas Moser,Renate Behle,Julia Varady
09. Finale: 'Reiche, Herrliche Natur' - Julia Varady,Renate Behle,Thomas Moser

01. Act Two.Intro: 'Kein Sang Und Klang Auf Dieser Welt' – Chor,Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,Peter Haage
02. Rezitativ: 'Mit Der Fulle Kriegerischer Ehren' - Peter Haage,Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
03. Arie: 'Der Kriegslust Ergeben' - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
04. Rezitativ: 'Mein Theurer Freund, Ich Theile Dein Gefuhl' - Peter Haage/Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
05. Rezitativ: Lasst Mich Auf Augenblicke'. Duett: 'Lass Fur Ihn, Den Ich Geliebet' - Julia Varady,Renate Behle
06. Rezitativ Und Rondo: 'Still Lag Auf Meiner Seele'. Rezitativ: 'Was Seh' Ich?' - Thomas Moser
07. Duett: 'Schones Madchen, Wirst Mich Hassen' - Thomas Moser,Renate Behle
08. Rezitativ Und Arie: 'O Neu Gefuhl, Was Mich Beseelet' - Renate Behle
09. Finale: 'Aus Der Wellen Heil'gem Schoss' – Chor,Julia Varady,Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,Thomas Moser
10. Finale: 'Herr, Gebietest Du?' – Chor,Kurt Moll,Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,Julia Varady
11. Act Three. Rezitativ: 'Mit Schwarzem Fittich Deckt Die Nacht'- Peter Haage,Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,Thomas Moser
12. Chor Und Solo: 'Wollet, Gotter, Uns Erhoren'. Rezitativ Und Arie... – Chor,Kurt Moll,Julia Varady
13. Rezitativ Und Arie: 'Ich Hatt' Entsagt Der Erde Freuden' - Julia Varady
14. Finale: 'Mein Schritt, Beflugelt Von Entzucken' - Renate Behle,Julia Varady,Kurt Moll Chor

Jessonda, widow of a Rajah (soprano) - Julia Varady
Amazili, her sister (soprano) - Renate Behle
Nadori, a young Brahmin (tenor) - Thomas Moser
Tristan d'Acunha, Portuguese general (baritone) - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Dandau, chief Brahmin (bass) - Kurt Moll
Pedro Lopez, Portuguese colonel (tenor) - Peter Haage
Hamburg State Opera Chorus
Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra
Gerd Albrecht – conductor


It is not particularly surprising that Jessonda should have been popular in its time nor that it should have been subsequently forgotten. In a brainless and genially sanctimonious way the scenario offers agreeable situations in which love finds a way, the oriental barbarians are confounded, and everybody else ends up singing to the god of battles. Musically it pleased both traditionalists and reformers for while clearly a product of the schools it also took opera a step closer to music-drama by blurring the distinction between aria and recitative. A later age lost interest partly because the innovative points had been carried, but principally because the passions were learning to speak a much more emphatic musical language and the taste for exoticism and 'local colour' would not be satisfied with such mild and decorous allusions as these.

This mildness is the first thing likely to strike the listener now. Of course Gilbert and Sullivan have come between Spohr and ourselves, so that it is hard to take a 6/8 chorus seriously as part of a hymn of mourning for the late Rajah; similarly when 'the messenger of death' is announced and begins to to sing a pretty siciliana type of melody, albeit in the minor key. The so-called War Dances might fitly take place in an eighteenth-century drawing-room. Storm, recognition, confrontation and love duet come and go in the most orderly fashion. Writers on Spohr have detected a connection with the Wagner of Tristan und Isolde, but it could not possibly have anything to do with the eroticism of that opera. With one exception all the singers here do their best for the dramatic side of the entertainment. Julia Varady in particular brings such a fine sensitivity to the title-role that for a disconcerting moment one has to suspend disbelief and begin to wonder what it is like to be in danger of serving as a sacrifice to Brahma at the very moment when the gallant Portuguese are about to come to the rescue. They (the gallant Portuguese) are led by Tristan D'Acunha as represented by Fischer-Dieskau, inescapably Germanic in declamation but duly responsive to the rival claims of love and honour. Thomas Moser as the young Brahmin with liberal tendencies fortified by love for Jessonda's sister presents a sympathetic and credible character, and though the sister in question seems to be nothing more nor less than a nice girl she is so well sung by Renate Behle that one takes her on trust. The exception to this general involvement of the cast in their roles is Kurt Moll, who plays the perfidious High Priest with imperturbable sonority and (perhaps taking his cue from the score) mildness.

Albrecht conducts a workmanlike performance, and though the orchestra is a little less forward in the balance than is customary these days one is gratefully aware that the players are kept busy. Gratitude is also due for the chance to hear this opera which has retained its place in the history books if nowhere else. At one point at least, it satisfies more than historical curiosity: that is Jessonda's prayer in Act 3, a most lovely solo and in context almost sublime when sung as beautifully as it is here by Varady.' ---


Acclaimed by contemporaries, but scarcely noticed by later generations, the opera Jessonda and its composer Louis Spohr have shared comparable fates. Yet it is worth rediscovering both: after all, the opera offers a musically exemplary and beautiful story about tolerance and understanding between nations.

An article in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung in 1825 expressed the opinion that “Next to Weber, Ludwig Spohr […] has succeeded in achieving attention and acclaim in high degree; indeed, through his opera Jessonda he has even competed successfully in northern Germany with the composer of Freyschütz for the palms of victory.” In contrast with Weber’s opera, Jessonda is seldom performed nowadays. Yet at the beginning of the 19th century, it was quite a different story. Louis Spohr had already made a major contribution to German romantic opera with Faust, composed in 1813 in Vienna. With Jessonda, completed in 1822, it was his declared intent to push ahead with its development. On a formal level, he made great progress in that he transformed the spoken dialogue into recitative and strove to combine the individual numbers of the opera with each other and to arrange them in larger scenic groupings.

After the Napoleonic occupation of Germany and the awakening feelings of nationhood, there was a corresponding search for “German masterworks” on the operatic stage. These were found above all amongst the works of Spohr, Weber and Marschner. However, Spohr’s operas were scarcely suitable as a foil to a guileless nationalism and, as a result, they fell into increasing obscurity after 1871. With their suppression of Jessonda, the Nazis brought about a temporary end to the reception history of Spohr’s operas. Now they more than deserve rediscovery precisely because of their dramaturgical intelligence and fundamental ideological-critical attitude.

Superficially, Jessonda presents at first a classic love story which is set in Goa in the 16th century. According to an Indian tradition, Jessonda, as the widow of a deceased rajah, is to be burned with the corpse of her husband. At first, she accepts the fate which is announced to her by the young Brahmin Nadori. In the meantime, however, the Portuguese general Tristan d’Acunha has landed on the coast and is approaching the city. In the belief that an innocent religious ceremony is taking place, he agrees to a ceasefire with the Indian high priest Dandau for the duration of the sacrifice. He recognises the true character of the ceremony too late and must also now recognise that the victim is the lost sweetheart of his youth, Jessonda. Rescue from the dilemma is brought by Nadori, who reports on a planned break in the ceasefire by Dandau, thus freeing Tristan from his word of honour.

Nadori at the same time embodies Kant’s definition of the enlightenment, for he fulfils the “emergence of man from his self-inflicted immaturity” in the course of the opera in exemplary fashion. This is hinted at musically even in his duet with Dandau at the beginning of the first act. In general, the music in this opera is not only extremely beautiful, but it is also highly intelligent. So, for example, although the Indians and the Portuguese are skilfully characterised musically in their respective scenes, when they face each other with drawn swords, the musical device used is a canon. In the clang of the weapons, the cultural differences fade away. The victory of good in this opera is because of a consistent enlightened attitude on both sides. A dramatisation, in other words, from which we can still learn a great deal today. ---Wolfram Boder,

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]]> (bluesever) Spohr Louis Wed, 08 Nov 2017 15:22:41 +0000
Louis Spohr – Violin Concerto no.8 (Hilary Hahn) [2006] Louis Spohr – Violin Concerto no.8 (Hilary Hahn) [2006]

1) 1. Recitative - Allegro molto [4:05]
2) 2. Adagio - Andante [7:44]
3) 3. Allegro moderato [8:03]

Hilary Hahn
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Eije Oue - conductor


Composed in 1816, Spohr’s Violin Concerto No. 8 received its Carnegie Hall premiere on December 4, 1896, with Carl Halir, violin, and the New York Symphony Orchestra conducted by Walter Damrosch. Louis (or Ludwig) Spohr was an extremely accomplished violinist and composer, in his time more famous in some circles than the other Ludwig—Beethoven. Spohr towered over other men and was said to have the hands of an athlete. Born within two years of Paganini, he came to regard the great Italian virtuoso as his arch-nemesis. He shunned the sensational effects of Paganini, preferring to use the violin as a vehicle for profound and lasting expression. In his 15 concertos, he strove to display his virtuosity without sacrificing his artistic standards.

He composed his Concerto No. 8, “in the form of an operatic scene,” in anticipation of his concerts in Italy, which he knew to be “voice mad.” In his autobiography, he revealed how he appealed to the crowd at Milan’s La Scala with his “singing” concerto:

It is difficult … with only the violin, to appeal to an audience accustomed to voices … Uncertainty about how my playing and my compositions would please the Italians left me somewhat anxious … but with the first measures I noted that the audience was receptive. My anxiety disappeared, and I played without inhibition. I also noted with pleasure that with my new concerto, written in Switzerland in the form of a scena ed aria, I had hit the mark. The arioso passages were received with particular enthusiasm.

Spohr’s goal of making the violin sing is obvious from the very first entry of the soloist, which is marked “Recitative.” The operatic nature of the violin’s melody draws attention to the proximity of the violin’s voice to that of a prima donna soprano. (Elsewhere, Spohr highlighted a different quality of the violin: in his programmatic “Travel” Sonata, Op. 96, for example, he made it sing, believe it or not, like a castrato.) In the ensuing cavatina and cabaletta, which follow without a break, the instrument’s vocality is further displayed, as if to demonstrate the statement Spohr made in his treatise on violin playing, that “of all instruments, the violin comes closest to the human voice.”

The concerto was a great success with the Italians, who appreciated Spohr’s instrumental vocalise. Interestingly, when he performed this concerto elsewhere, he was praised not only for approximating singing but for going beyond what the human voice could do. In London and Berlin, Spohr’s violin was thought to be so expressive as to out-sing many opera singers of the day.

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]]> (bluesever) Spohr Louis Mon, 26 Oct 2009 00:24:57 +0000
Spohr - Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 14, 15 (2000) Spohr - Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 14, 15 (2000)

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01] Violinkonzert Nr. 14 a-moll op. 110 - Concertino 'Sonst und jetzt'
02] Violinkonzert Nr. 15 e-moll op. 128 - 1. Allegro
03] Violinkonzert Nr. 15 e-moll op. 128 - 2. Larghetto
04] Violinkonzert Nr. 15 e-moll op. 128 - 3. Rondo grazioso
05] Violinkonzert Nr. 1 A-dur op. 1 - 1. Allegro vivace
06] Violinkonzert Nr. 1 A-dur op. 1 - 2. Siciliano
07] Violinkonzert Nr. 1 A-dur op. 1 - 3. Polonaise

Ulf Hoelscher - violin
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Christian Fröhlich – conductor


During his lifetime the music of Louis Spohr aroused such widespread admiration that his contemporaries frequently mentioned his compositions in the same breath as those of Beethoven. Subsequent generations, however, have taken a much more sober view of his achievement. For instance, out of his 15 numbered violin concertos, only the Eighth, conceived in the rather unconventional form of an operatic scena, still hovers on the fringes of the repertoire. Yet on the evidence of Ulf Hoelscher’s invaluable series for CPO, the almost total neglect of the other concertos seems unjustified. This latest instalment in the complete cycle maintains the impressive standards set in previous recordings. Hoelscher demonstrates a formidable mastery of Spohr’s technically challenging passagework, although his efforts are somewhat undermined by the recessed sound of the orchestra. The music itself is attractive and melodious, without plumbing great emotional depths. Nonetheless, it is fascinating to experience a bird’s-eye view of Spohr’s development, from the elegant if somewhat four-square First Concerto to the more sophisticated harmonic and formal structures of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth. Underlying all these works is Spohr’s remarkable constancy of musical language, as well as a reluctance to move with the times – factors which may well have hastened his demise later in the 19th century. ---Erik Levi,

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]]> (bluesever) Spohr Louis Sat, 31 Jul 2010 12:21:52 +0000