Arthur Schoonderwoerd / Ensemble Cristofori

Fodor, Schmitt, Wilms: Concertos hollandais pour piano

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This CD contains three works by three relatively unknown Classical era composers, performed on a (now) relatively rare keyboard instrument of the same period. However, although being obscure, these works are all pleasantly refreshing, combining Style Galant keyboard writing with Mannheim School orchestral writing. Arthur Schoonderwoerd and his Ensemble Cristofori play piano concertos of Johann Wilhelm Wilms and Carolus Antonius Fodor and a piano quartet of Joseph Schmitt with enthusiasm on period instruments. Schoonderwoerd uses a "tangent piano" for the Wilms and Schmitt. The instrument sounds like a harpsichord with loud and soft capabilities and blends well with the orchestra; but it is naturally a very quiet instrument, so solo passages seem out of proportion even against the small, 10-member orchestra. The Wilms keeps Schoonderwoerd busy because the keyboard part also acts as continuo in tutti sections. The first movement is energetic; a more sober Poco Adagio and a Rondo finale that hints at the Turkish fad, but could also be a rustic dance, follow. The Schmitt quartet is like a concerto in miniature, with the piano very much in the spotlight. The first Allegro uses interesting stepwise, minor key figures to modulate between major keys. The flute and piano trade themes in the Adagio, and the brief, final Allegro is a fleet-footed caper. The Fodor concerto shows more Sturm und Drang than the other works. For this Schoonderwoerd uses a fortepiano, which is still quiet compared to the orchestra, but has a slightly more cushioned sound than the tangent piano. The concerto opens with an extended exposition, like Mozart's later concertos. The middle movement is an intimate Adagio non tanto that uses only a muted string quartet to accompany the piano and then leads into a generally lighthearted Turkish Rondo, complete with drum and triangle. The Wilms and Schmitt are enjoyable, but the Fodor allows Schoonderwoerd and the Ensemble to finish the program with a flourish.

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