Le jour variable — Stamitz anticipates Beethoven

If you’re not familiar with Carl Stamitz, this release is a good place to start. Carl Stamitz was the son of Johann Stamitz. Johann was the leader of the Mannheim Palace orchestra, the incubator of the classical style.

The Mannheim School inspired both Haydn and Mozart. These composers took the Mannheim innovations to the next level. Carl Stamitz also absorbed the Mannheim School aestetic. And he also moved it ahead.

This release presents four of Stamitz’s 50+ symphonies. Three of these works are fairly short, running between 12-15 minutes in length. Stylistically they resemble the early symphonies of Haydn, written around the same time.

Of greater interest (to me) was The Grand Pastoral Symphony in G major, “Le jour variable” (The Variable Day). Beethoven wasn’t the only one who wrote a symphony depicting a day in the country.

Stamitz’s 1772 “Le Jour Variable” begins with a pastoral. Then in the second movement, the storm hits. The third movement depicts the dark night after the storm. And the symphony ends with a thrilling hunt.

Stamitz isn’t Beethoven. But his masterful orchestration vividly sets the scene and depicts the action.

The Kolner Akademie under the direction of Michael Alexander Willans performs well. They have a transparent sound that’s well-suited to Stamitz’s symphonies. And they have the power to hammer home the storm in “Le Jour Variable.”

If you’re not familiar with Stamitz, start here. And discover that the 1790s talent pool extended beyond Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Carl Stamitz: Le Jour Variable
Four Symphonies
Kolner Akademie; Michael Alexander Willens, conductor


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