This release presents a sampling of Franz Xaver Richter’s work while attached to the Mannheim court. it’s an interesting choice for a program. By some accounts, Richter was the odd man out at court.
Franz Ignaz Beck, Carl Stamitz, and the other court composers were interested in pushing boundaries. This Mannheim School developed the dramatic gestures and four-movement structure that would become the language of the classical symphony.
Richter was somewhat more conservative, and it’s easy to hear that in this program. The Sinfonia in B major is a four-movement work, but the drama is somewhat understated. I had the same impression of the Sinfonia in G minor. Richter seems to build on Handel’s foundation.
The Oboe Concerto in G minor also sounds modeled on Baroque templates. The two trio sonatas, on the other hand, seemed more lively. If the sinfonias are post-Baroque, then the trios are pre-Classical. Wild dynamic contrasts are still missing, but there’s a natural and less formal expressiveness in these works.
The Capricornus Consort Basel have a warm ensemble blend. Xenia Löffler playing of the baroque oboe is exceptional. The sound is smooth and full. Her expressive reading of the music makes the melodic lines seem to undulate at times.
Richter may not have been as cutting edge as his Mannheim colleagues, but he was still a skilled composer. Recommended to anyone interested in the music of the 1700s (early or late).
Franz Xaver Richter
Sinfonias, Sonatas & Oboe Concerto
Capricornus Consort Basel; Peter Barczi, conductor