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Born in 1763 of Italian/German parentage, Franz Danzi is one of those composers whose music has perhaps unjustly been collecting dust over the last few generations. A contemporary of Beethoven and renowned in his day as an opera composer, it is with his chamber music that his reputation has today gained strength, and he wrote a significant quantity of it. Working initially as a cellist in the Mannheim Court Orchestra, he subsequently followed the orchestra to Munich. After a short spell in Stuttgart, during which time he befriended Weber and Spohr, Danzi’s final posting was to the court in Baden where he died a year before Beethoven, in 1826.

Undoubtedly influenced by Mozart, the three works presented on this disc by ensembleF2 reveal Danzi’s skill at drawing out and exploiting the various instruments’ cantabile qualities, and is admirably championed by five period- instrument exponents: James Eastaway (oboe), Jane Booth (clarinet), Anneke Scott (horn), Ursula Leveaux (bassoon) and Steven Devine (fortepiano). The timbre of their individual instruments bring infinite colour and character to the D minor Quintet op 41, with its typically dominant keyboard part adding appropriate turbulence and restlessness to the outer movements, but never denying its companions their often substantial, conversational roles. Two sonatas for horn and clarinet, op 28 and op 54 respectively, further exploit the elegant, lyrical capabilities of each, while the piano provides sensitive support and the occasional jovial touch of the fairground to both final movements from the various percussion effects built into Finchcock’s 1815 Johann Fritz fortepiano. Enjoyable!

Katharine May Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing