Franz Hauk / Bavarian Classical Players

Johann Simon Mayr: Overtures

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Known in his time for his many successful operas, Johann Simon Mayr is mostly remembered today for introducing Beethoven's music to Italy and for teaching Donizetti, while his operas have all slipped into obscurity. The chances are good that most listeners trying this album of Mayr's opera overtures will be hearing his music for the first time, and the high spirits of these pieces will likely appeal to fans of Weber, Rossini, and other composers of the transitional period from Classicism to Romanticism. Performed by Franz Hauk and the Bavarian Classical Players, Concerto de Bassus, and I Virtuosi Italiani, this Naxos collection doesn't boast any instantly recognizable hits, but the selections are consistent in their liveliness and originality, and their brevity makes them easy to digest. Try the amusing overture to Cora, Ercole in Lidia (with its arresting opening on drums and unusual part for harp), and the agreeably Haydn-esque Sinfonia in E flat major to get a sense of Mayr's accessible style.

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