Elegant and lyrical, lively and buoyant, these polished concertos by Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754-1812) are immediately appealing and enjoyable throughout. Hoffmeister’s flute concertos nos. Flutist Bruno Meier performs 21 and 24 with the Prague Chamber Orchestra. Released by Naxos, both concertos are appearing as world premiere recordings, and it’s hard to imagine them being played any better than they are here.
Flutist Bruno Meier has long been dedicated to the discovery and exposure of repertoire similar to these Hoffmeister concertos. In his work as a musicologist, he has uncovered and premiered flute concertos by Mysliveček, Vanhal, Krommer, Rosetti, Reicha, Witt, and Lachner.
A composer who is in the same league as Haydn in terms of productivity, Hoffmeister’s music is woefully underrepresented on CD. His most frequently performed and recorded works include his Concerto for Viola in D and the Concerto for Clarinet in B flat. Aside from an assortment of other concertos, a few sinfonia concertantes, and a Chandos CD containing three of his symphonies (CHA 10351), most everything else by Hoffmeister that is available on disc is chamber music. That’s a shame; on the evidence of these recordings, he wrote excellent orchestral music. Credited with some sixty-six symphonies and twenty-five concertos for flute alone, he also wrote a lot of it.
If we’re lucky, perhaps there is a cycle of Hoffmeister’s symphonies on the horizon from Naxos; if we are fortunate, they too will be performed by the Prague Chamber Orchestra. In the meantime, we can welcome this CD, not only for the chance to hear Hoffmeister’s graceful and melodic writing for solo flute but also as an all too scarce opportunity to listen to his orchestral oeuvre.
As prolific a composer as Haydn, Franz Anton Hoffmeister was a formative figure in his day, also acting as a significant music publisher for Mozart and Beethoven. Meeting the tastes of the time with a perfect blend of grace and artistry, both of these flute concertos are filled with radiant elegance and catchy melodies, allied to symphonic dimensions and passages of remarkable virtuosity for the soloist.
Composer: Franz Anton Hoffmeister
Born in Rothenburg am Neckar, Franz Anton Hoffmeister went to Vienna to study law, leaving in 1778 to serve as Kapellmeister to a nobleman in Hungary. By 1784 he was back in Vienna, where he set up a music publishing business, establishing a close association with Mozart.
Flute: Bruno Meier
Bruno Meier was born in Switzerland and studied the flute with André Jaunet in Zurich, Marcel Moyse at Brattleboro (USA), and Peter-Lukas Graf at the Academy of Music in Basel, where he was awarded a concert diploma with distinction. He went on to work as a lecturer (University of Applied Sciences of Northwest Switzerland) and as principal flutist with several well-known chamber orchestras.
Orchestra: Prague Chamber Orchestra Without Conductor
Prague Chamber Orchestra boasts a unique position not only among Czech ensembles, for similar formations are quite rare even worldwide as performing music without a conductor requires a special rapport of all orchestra members. Each relates not to the conductor’s baton but the ensemble as a whole, assuming the role of a chamber music player even though the instrumentation is much larger, stemming from the late 18th century peak Classicist period practice.