Sturm und Drang Volume 1 | Release date: 15 May 2020
Ian Page and The Mozartists begin a projected seven-volume recording series exploring Sturm und Drang, the 18th-century movement that swept through music and other art forms between the early 1760s and the early 1780s. Translated as “Storm and Stress”, this dramatic and ground-breaking style sought to evoke extremes of emotion and came to be associated with art, literature and music that aimed to shock the audience.
Ian Page’s critically-acclaimed recordings, including an ongoing series of Mozart’s operas, have largely featured operatic and vocal music. Now, reflecting the expansion of repertoire under his company’s new name, The Mozartists, this ambitious Sturm und Drang project is dominated by orchestral repertoire. It incorporates iconic opera, ballet and symphonies by Mozart, Gluck and, above all, Joseph Haydn, as well as including largely forgotten or neglected works by less familiar names such as Jommelli, Beck and Vanhal.
This first Volume of Sturm und Drang features music composed in the 1760s and opens with the finale of Gluck’s Don Juan ballet, which depicts the Don’s descent into hell and is often cited as the birth of the movement in music. The two other centrepieces are Haydn’s remarkable Symphony No. 49 in F minor, ‘La Passione’, and the lesser-known but no less remarkable Symphony in G minor by Franz Ignaz Beck. Acclaimed Swiss soprano Chiara Skerath is the soloist in darkly atmospheric arias by Haydn, Traetta and Jommelli.
Conductor Ian Page writes:
“The so-called Sturm und Drang movement in music prompted some astonishingly dynamic and visceral works, many of which now sound bewilderingly ahead of their time. The remarkable series of minor-key symphonies that Haydn composed during the second half of the 1760s and the early 1770s are rightly acknowledged as the peak of this repertoire, but alongside these masterpieces I wanted to explore and champion lesser known works that captured the spirit of the time and similarly embodied the often turbulent and passionate reaction against the niceties of rococo style. Much of the repertoire, but by no means all of it, is centred around Vienna, and draws on the movement’s penchant for highly-charged minor-key symphonies combined with the equally reactionary operatic reforms of composers such as Gluck, Jommelli and Traetta, and this music really lifts off the page when played on instruments of the period. The process of programming this series has been extremely stimulating and at times surprising – as with the wonderful Beck symphony featured on the first disc, for example – and I’m very excited at the prospect of sharing this music with our audiences.”
This album was recorded at St John’s Smith Square, London in January 2019 and will be released on the Signum record label on 15 May 2020. The second volume will follow next season, with Volumes 3-7 scheduled over the coming years.
1 GLUCK: Final scene from Don Juan
Larghetto – Chaconne (Allegro non troppo)
2 JOMMELLI: “Ombre che tacite qui sede” from Fetonte
(Chiara Skerath, Fetonte)
3 HAYDN: “Non v’è chi mi aiuta” from La canterina
(Chiara Skerath, Gasparina)
4 BECK: Symphony in G minor, Op. 3, no.3
1. Allegro con spirito
2. Andante un poco adagio
3. Minuetto e Trio
5 TRAETTA: “Crudeli, ahimè, che fate?” from Sofonisba
(Chiara Skerath, Sofonisba)
6 TRAETTA: “Sofonisba, che aspetti?” from Sofonisba
(Chiara Skerath, Sofonisba)
7 HAYDN: Symphony No. 49 in F minor, ‘La Passione’
2. Allegro di molto
3. Menuet e Trio