There is more music in the world than one person could ever listen to in a lifetime. The variety of things to listen to cannot be fathomed and in the era of the smartphone, all of it is available to us at the press of a button. This is a luxury that would have made earlier generations of music appreciators green with envy. That’s why it’s so curious that so many great artists remain unappreciated in this day and age. Despite this unprecedented accessibility, a lot of great music continues to go unnoticed. Nowhere is this more the case than in the realm of classical music, where we have a strong tendency to revisit the familiar favorites again and again. If you take a look at the calendar of a major concert venue, you will see the same names coming back year after year. A rather small group of composers has gained a permanent spot in the program booklets. And although these legends are undeniably valued with good reason, our sustained focus on them means that we miss a lot of fantastic music that has disappeared from the radar.
In some cases, a single composer’s legacy is so big, that it casts a shadow over an entire generation. Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the most beloved musicians of all time, is a good example of this phenomenon. Being an avid fan of Beethoven’s music myself, I can hardly object to the Beethoven-mania that continues to this day, but at the same time, I consider it a pity that we pay so little attention to Beethoven’s contemporaries. Sometimes, it almost seems as if no other capable composers were born in the 1770s, except for Beethoven, which is not the case, of course.
Joseph Wölfl is, in my opinion, one of the most undervalued composers from this era. During his lifetime, he was one of the biggest stars in the world of music, which is remarkable, considering his complete lack of popularity now. About three years ago, I listened to Wölfl’s music for the first time and was profoundly moved. I was surprised to learn that he was only three years younger than Beethoven. His musical vocabulary, while firmly rooted in a classicist background, is clearly indicative of early romanticism and is very reminiscent of Schubert’s music and sometimes even Mendelssohn’s or Schumann’s, all of whom where only children when Wölfl died. So, it’s safe to say that Wölfl’s music was ahead of its time in many respects. What’s more, his pieces cover a wide range of genres and styles; what you can hear on this album is only a fraction.
Last year, I started playing some of Wölfl’s pieces myself and that experience has not just confirmed, but deepened my love for his music. I thought it would be very exciting, if more people could hear it and share my appreciation for it. That is why I am extremely grateful that I have had the opportunity to record this album.
Mattias Spee, piano
Total time: 01:04:14
|Original Recording Format|
|Recording & Mastering||
|Release Date||June 9, 2021|
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