Michael Alexander Willens / Kölner Akademie

E.T.A. Hoffmann: Symphony; Overtures; Friedrich Witt: Sinfonia in A

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Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann was one of the most important figures of the Romantic movement, inspiring such later composers as Robert Schumann (Kreisleriana), Léo Delibes (Coppélia), Jacques Offenbach (The Tales of Hoffman), and Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (Nutcracker) through his fantastic tales. Yet Hoffmann was a composer in his own right, and he had modest success with his operas Undine and Aurora, along with his Symphony in E flat major, and various vocal and chamber pieces. Hoffmann's symphony, the Overture to Undine, and the Overture and March from Aurora are programmed on this 2015 CPO release with the Symphony in A major by Friedrich Witt, a contemporary of Hoffmann who focused his energies almost entirely on instrumental music. Both symphonies were strongly influenced by the music of Haydn, though the orchestral and harmonic coloration of Hoffmann's work still shows his devotion to Mozart. The performances here by the Kölner Akademie, conducted by Michael Alexander Willens, are bright and energetic interpretations that emphasize the late Classical style through period instrumentation and historically informed practices. CPO's recorded sound is a little recessed, possibly due to the microphone placement, though the reproduction is clear and finely detailed.

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