Now who in the world was Annette von Menz? She was born into a wealthy family and the daughter of a Tyrolean merchant who was fond of playing the guitar. She soon learned it herself and inherited this interest, but alas, she was rendered an orphan before reaching the age of 20. After a proposed marriage to a no-good French army officer was rebuffed, she was wed to a good German nobleman only to see him die within the year. She later found someone a little sturdier to father her four children and to join her in a long, happy life as a patron of the arts in Tyrol. So why are we even talking about her, even though her life sounds like the stuff of a bad operetta? Because she had a large music collection that was recently moved from her home, which still stands, to a proper music library in Bolzano. So guitarist Giuseppe Carrer and flutist Luigi Lupo just had to get it out and record Dynamic's The Music Salon of Annette von Menz.
Carrer is a very fine guitarist, playing an Italian guitar made in 1810 and a French instrument dating from the 1830s. Lupo plays an eight-key flute that is a copy of a German instrument made in 1810; his playing is decent but sometimes he's a little slow on the uptake and the tone of the flute tends to be more bright than warm. The Tyrolean composers Annette von Menz and her father commissioned, however, are no match for either the instruments or the instrumentalists, and by and large the music on this disc is rather boring; it represents the classical era growing overripe in a mass-produced idiom. There is one exception -- the Grandes Variations (8) pour la Guitarre Oev. 8 of Joseph Ewald Reiner is a work of genuine originality and imagination. Guitar fanciers will be satisfied to hear the sound of these vintage instruments, and Carrer plays them well, but overall The Music Salon of Annette von Menz is like reaching into the part of the repertoire barrel where only the broken dishes are found.