Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Joachim Nikolas Eggert is a composer that is well worth hearing, especially his two symphonies that are given wonderfully accomplished and fluent performances by the Gävle Symphony Orchestra under Gérard Korsten on a new release from Naxos

The Swedish composer and conductor Joachim Nikolas Eggert (1779-1813) was born on the island of Gingst off the Baltic coast of Germany. He began studying the violin at an early age and continued his musical education in Stralsund studying violin and composition. He later studied in Braunschweig and Göttingen, Germany with Johann Nikolaus Forkel (1749-1818).

As conductor of the Swedish Royal Court orchestra he was one of the first to introduce many of the Viennese classics. In 1812 he conducted the first Swedish performance of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. His own compositions include two operas, four completed symphonies and chamber works.

The Gävle Symphony Orchestra www.gavlesymfoniorkester.se conducted by Gérard Korsten www.gerardkorsten.com/insight  have recorded for Naxos www.naxos.com  the first of two discs devoted to Eggert’s symphonies and orchestral works. This new release includes two world premiere recordings.

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They open this new disc with Eggert’s Incidental Music: Overture for the play Mohrene I Spanien (The Moors in Spain), a spirited overture with much of the flavour of Mozart and even Haydn in its colourful orchestration.

The first major work here is the three movement Symphony No.3 in E flat major (1807) premiered that year in a concert mainly of other works by Eggert.

The Gävle Symphony Orchestra brings a fine weight to the opening Adagio maestoso before moving into a light, flowing Allegro spiritoso full of attractive ideas. The music has a very fine flow of invention with some wonderfully dynamic moments that really push the music along with a forward flow. For all its debt to Haydn the second movement, Marche: Grave reveals a rather Mendelssohnian flavour as it slowly reveals itself with some very fine instrumental details. Fugue: Adagio maestoso - Allegro soon finds a slightly faster tempo with some fine instrumental layers. The music slowly speeds into the Allegro where the varying musical lines flow quickly forward to a gentle coda.  

Eggert also wrote Incidental Music for the play Svante Sture (1812) which here receives its world premiere recording. Wind open the Marche bringing the feel of a Mozart wind serenade in the particularly attractive little theme. Entr'acte between Acts I & II has a fine orchestral introduction before a bassoon takes a lead in the melody over a gentle orchestral accompaniment. The lovely Postlude after Act II is full of Mozartian vibrancy before the stately Entr'acte between Acts II & III that brings some fine moments for wind.

For all its rather four square march rhythms the Prelude to Act III: Marche finds Eggert adding interest with his fine instrumental details. Marche and Chorale brings a nicely rhythmically pointed up Marche before leading into a slow Chorale that brings some very fine wind sonorities that again foreshadow Mendelssohn, before the Marche returns. A gentle flowing Entr'acte between Acts III & IV follows before the Entr'acte between Acts IV & V where brass point up the rhythms bringing a ceremonial air.

The second world premiere recording on this disc is the Symphony No.1 in C major (c.1804-1805) thought to be the composer’s first work on his arrival in Stockholm and given its first performance, privately, in 1805. There is a slow dramatic, grave opening Adagio mesto rising through fine passages of more flow before leaping into the Allegro con brio with its attractive theme. The Gävle Symphony Orchestra brings a fine weight and colour to the music with some terrific swirls of woodwind heard through the orchestral tapestry. Percussion add colour in a rather Haydnesque way with conductor Gérard Korsten bringing a real urgency to many passages. There are some very fine passages with great weight and dynamism, increasing in forward flow and drama as the music heads to the coda.  

A rhythmically buoyant Andante follows with passages of gentler flowing melody. There are some especially fine woodwind passages as well as those where percussion again point up the music. A brilliant little Minuet and Trio: Allegro follows with the flavour of Mendelssohn returning. There is a fine rhythmic pulse, nicely layered orchestral textures and details with a beautifully conceived trio section.

The Finale: Allegro vivace races ahead with a light touch, pointed up again by percussion with some lovely little ideas along the way, full of orchestral colour and dynamism. Later a slower passage arrives with prominent basses and gentle timpani before speeding again with some lovely woodwind passages before hurtling to a colourful coda.

Of all the byways of 18th/19th century music here is a composer that is well worth hearing, especially his two symphonies which are really attractive works that hold the attention throughout. 

They are given wonderfully accomplished and fluent performances by the Gävle Symphony Orchestra under Gérard Korsten and an excellent recording from the Gävle Concert Hall, Sweden. There are informative booklet notes. I’m rather looking forward to hearing the second volume in this set. 

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