Theodor von Schacht Symphonies continue to entertain

Theodor von Schacht was appointed director of court music in Regensburg in 1773. It was a big deal.

Regensburg was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire and the home of the Perpetual Diet. In 1663 the Diet convened. Fearing that the Emperor wouldn’t hold another, the body simply never adjourned, continually in session from 1663 through 1806.That made Regensburg a magnet for emissaries across Europe. They had to be entertained — and impressed — by the Imperial Court. Von Schacht was more than equal to the task.

This is the second volume of his symphonies Gernot Schmalfuss and the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra have recorded for CPO. Von Schacht used Haydn as his model, so these are lengthy works. Each release features three symphonies.

Von Schacht wrote about 33 symphonies, so only nine more volumes to go!

Von Schacht used Haydn’s symphonic structure, but he wasn’t a Haydn imitator. The symphonies presented here all have Haydn’s mature four-movement form. The first movements start with a slow introduction, The second movements are slow, and the third movements are minuets.

The difference in the music von Schacht fills out those forms with. His ideas are direct, straightforward, and darned catchy. His role was to entertain rather than enlighten, and these symphonies deliver.

They’re well-crafted, with some imaginative use of winds and brass. I caught myself humming along more than once.

Gernot Schmalfuss and the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra perform with light-hearted energy. In the liner notes Maestro Schmalfuss writes, “The ESO and I hope that you will obtain just as much pleasure from listening to this CD as we did when we recorded it.”

I certainly did.

Theodor von Schacht: Symphonies, Vol. 2
Evergreen Symphony Orchestra; Gernot Schmalfuss, conductor
CPO 77 912-2

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