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C.F.E. Weyse: Key Masterpieces

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Delicious Danish Jan. 29 2011
By Craig M. Zeichner - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The music of Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse (1774-1842) isn't very well known outside of his native Denmark and that's too bad. Weyse wasn't one for traveling, so his music really didn't have an opportunity to take root on the continent, but a number of 19th century musical luminaries (Liszt, Moscheles, Clara Schumann) did come to Denmark to visit him (no doubt to hear his considerable pianistic skills). Bottom line is, Weyse was a musical conservative whose interests did not extend beyond Mozart, so he was kind of left behind when Beethoven and others stormed ahead in (at the time) new music. Thankfully, this excellent collection introduces the delightful Weyse to the wider world and there's lots to like.

Weyse is best remembered as a song composer (the great Danish tenor Aksel Schøtz was an advocate and recorded several of his songs) and this 2-CD collection is filled with some top-notch songs. Weyse's melodic talent is considerable and his "Evening Songs" of 1838 charm with their unaffected sweetness. Soprano Else Torp and tenor Mathias Hedegaard make a strong case for them. Hedegaard is also the soloist in three orchestral songs with chorus that are equally lovely. Weyse wrote seven symphonies and they sit squarely in the classical tradition. If you enjoy the symphonies of Haydn or the early symphonies of Schubert, you will be right at home here. Weyse's piano works are represented by the fine Piano Sonata No. 6 in B flat major and a set of virtuoso Etudes. A large-scale Christmas Cantata closes things out. Weyse's vocal writing is quite fine and features some marvelous choral writing, including a brilliant closing fugue. Like I said, the performances are uniformly excellent and there isn't anything here that won't inspire you to check out more by this delightful composer. Go for it!

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