Pratum Integrum Orchestra

Anton Ferdinand Tietz: Instrumental Music

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Just when you thought there were no more Sturm und Drang composers left scribbling away in the dank cellars and cold attic rooms of eighteenth century Europe, here comes one more: Anton Ferdinand Tietz. A native to Nuremburg, Tietz left for Vienna at an early age and gained a post as violinist in the Vienna Opera Orchestra through the influence of Christoph Willibald Gluck. Tietz also may have studied with Franz Joseph Haydn; in any event he was skilled enough to receive in 1771 a summons from Catherine the Great to perform in her court at St. Petersburg. Tietz responded and subsequently entered into the service of the Russian court for the rest of his days, though his later years were compromised by bouts with mental illness; Louis Spohr reported that by 1803, Tietz's violin technique had gone to pot.

Tietz's C major Symphony is played with a good deal of verve and brio by the Pratum Integrum Orchestra in this overview of Tietz's instrumental music for Caro Mitis; the disc also includes an alternatively low-key and bracing String Quintet in D minor and a Duo for violin and cello in C major. Obviously, with the dual heritage of the contact with both Gluck and Haydn, one would expect Tietz to have at least some measure of storm and stress in his musical blood. That is attested to well in his D minor String Quartet, Op. 1/5, dedicated to Prince Golitsin with its abrupt shifts of mood and darkly hued first movement. However, the second movement has some of the sun -- though none of the sugar -- of Viennese classical style in it, as does his Violin Concerto in E flat, a strong and assertive concerto that almost sounds like the late-career violin concerto that Haydn didn't write. Tietz's surviving output is not exceptionally extensive; none of his vocal music has survived and apart from the symphony and violin concerto -- both presented here -- all that's left of his work is chamber music, including some 15 string quartets. Pratum Integrum's Anton Ferdinand Tietz: Instrumental Music is entirely gratifying to listen to and well played, but does not feel as essential as the recording of the symphonies of Tietz's younger contemporary, Joseph Wölfl. Given what else is out there in terms of Tietz, this Caro Mitis release may well be enough to represent the composer altogether; even though it is satisfactory, Anton Ferdinand Tietz: Instrumental Music doesn't inspire the listener to want to move forward beyond what's here.

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