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Theodor von SCHACHT (1748-1823)
Symphonies - Volume 1
Sinfonia in C [29:58]
Sinfonia in E flat [28:38]
Sinfonia 'con eco' in E flat (1775) [20:17]
Evergreen Symphony Orchestra / Gernot Schmalfuss
rec. Cultural Center, Keelung City, Taipei, 5-8 March 2012
CPO 777 737-2 [79:33]

The accompanying booklet carries an interesting and well-written essay by German musicologist Christoph Meixner. It is not until three-quarters of the way through, however, that featured composer Theodor von Schacht actually gets a mention - up to that point the reader will have enjoyed a sociological discussion of the functions of music and a historical perspective on the fascinating-yet-neglected court of Thurn and Taxis.
In fact, Regensburger Schacht is another talented composer from the turn of the 19th century unfortunately lost to dusty archives - but now resurrected by the ever-discerning CPO. This very generously-timed first of what promises to be several volumes - Schacht wrote thirty or more symphonies - sees the Taiwan-based Evergreen Symphony Orchestra (ESO) pick up from their recent recording for the label of the four symphonies of Antonio Cartellieri, like Schacht a close but later invisible contemporary of Beethoven. In the dozen or so years it has existed, the ESO has built up a very decent reputation, particularly under Schmalfuss, and the enthusiastic reception of their Cartellieri disc is likely to be approximated with these quite proficient and affable accounts of Schacht.
Though Schacht gave them the potentially ambiguous Italian title, the symphonies are all substantial works - two extend to fulfilling half-hours. Each of the three cast in a classical four movements - the first and last fast, with a minuet third - they are at the very least well-proportioned, elegant and diverting. Unsurprisingly, they recall Haydn, whose latest symphonies at the figuratively nearby Esterhazy court must have held special fascination for Schacht. Like countless mid-to-late-18th-century symphonies, the E-flat 'with echo' undoubtedly served a more functional purpose, but it measures up aesthetically as well as in terms of entertainment.

CPO's sound quality is pretty good - just the usual slight lack of definition in the higher range of the violins. The aforementioned notes are thoughtfully offered in German, English and Chinese.
Very little of Schacht's music has been recorded, making this CD all the more collectable. On this evidence, volume 2 should be anticipated with some eagerness.
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