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Andreas Jakob ROMBERG (1767-1821)
Flute Quintets, Opus 41 Nos. 1, 2, and 3

Vladislav Brunner, flute;Viktor Simcisko, violin ;Milan Teleckj, viola;
Jan Cut, viola ; Juraj Alexander, cello
NAXOS 8.554765 [73.30]
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Andreas Jakob Romberg was a member of a family of musicians from the area of Münster in Germany. After studying with his father, as a child he went on concert tours in Germany and France with his cousin and their respective fathers. Later he met Beethoven when they both played in the same orchestra in Bonn. He was a violinist as well as composer and after leaving Bonn he became influenced by Haydn in Vienna and won the praise of the veteran composer. He spent most of his mature years in Hamburg.

He was a prolific composer, writing eight operas, ten symphonies and numerous chamber pieces. It is good to be able to listen to a disc of some of the music of this undoubtedly talented composer. It is interesting to note that the recording was made in 1992, although it has only just been released; one cannot help but wonder what other fascinating recordings Naxos has in its bottom drawer!

Romberg's flute quintets are scored for flute, violin, two violas and cello and are melodic and well written in a format based upon that of Haydn, although the general style reminds me somewhat of Spohr (who was a friend of Romberg); the music is however without the sometimes long-winded movements which are so typical of Spohr's music. The music is brilliantly elaborated, especially in the flute part, and the short but well constructed movements are full of interest. Romberg does not hesitate to use well known melodies in his music and it is fun to hear the British National Anthem make an appearance in the slow movement of the first of these quartets.

This is a very pleasant disc and can be thoroughly recommended to anyone who likes the chamber music of the time when the classical mode was changing to the romantic idiom. It is beautifully played by this group of leading Slovak instrumentalists. There is only one slight cavil and that is that I would have liked a bit more bounce in the dance movements. The music is well recorded. The cover sleeve is attractive and there are useful notes by Keith Anderson (based on those of Egon Krák).

Arthur Baker

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