Paul Wranitzky Symphonies Anticipate Beethoven

Volume two of Naxos’ Wranitzky series features all world premiere recordings. Of course, that’s not so hard to do. As popular as Paul Wranitzky was in 1800s Vienna, he remains all but unknown today. And that’s also why a release of never-heard-before recordings is so exciting.

Wranitzky moved to Vienna from Moravia in the 1770s to seek his fame and fortune. And he found it.

As a composer, his music rivaled Haydn’s in popularity. And he was in demand as a conductor — he premiered Beethoven’s first symphony.

The symphonies in this release show that Wranitzky’s compositional skill rivaled Haydn’s. Like Haydn, he could take the simplest note combination and build an entire symphony out of it. And make it sound both logical and surprising. Wranitzky also seemed a little more interested in orchestration than Haydn.

His Symphony in D minor “La Tempesta” simulates a storm in the final movement. He does so through his orchestration, particularly with his use of percussion. And his storm symphony anticipates Beethoven’s by fourteen years!

The other two symphonies on this release date from the early 1790s. They also resemble Haydn’s of the same era in quality.

Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice directed by Marek Štilec delivers some excellent performances. Wranitzky was closer to Haydn than Beethoven in style. A big orchestra crashing into the climaxes isn’t necessary. The CCPOP plays forcefully when needed. But the lightness and clarity of their sound seem appropriate with Wranitzky’s aesthetic.

When Wranitzky died at age 52 in 1808, he had composed 44 symphonies. This release presents three of them. I’m very curious to hear more. If you love the symphonies of Haydn and Mozart, you’ll like the symphonies of Wranitzky — at the very least.

Paul Wranitzky: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2
Symphonies – ‘La Tempesta’; Op. 16, No. 2; Op. 33, No. 3
Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice; Marek Štilec, conductor
Naxos 8.574255

More Recent Posts