Franz Danzi was a remarkable composer, partially forgotten till a few decades ago, but now gaining some increasing popularity in recent times. He is considered one of the last composers with some significant musical roots coming from the well known Mannheim School but also with notable first romantic elements in his compositions, embracing various genres such as opera, church music, orchestral works to chamber music. His father, Innocenzo Danzi was italian and played in the Mannheim orchestra as a principal cellist and was praised by Mozart for his playing at the premiere of Idomeneo. F. Danzi himself was also a first rate cellist and conductor. All members of his family were good musicians. Born in Schwetzingen and raised in Mannheim, Danzi studied with his father and with Georg Joseph Vogler before he joined the superlative orchestra of the Elector Karl Theodor in 1778 as a teenager. In 1780, the first of his woodwind compositions was published at Mannheim. His father, principal cellist of the orchestra, was praised by Mozart for his playing at the premiere of Idomeneo. Danzi remained behind in a Mannheim that was rendered more provincial when Karl Theodor moved his court to Munich in 1778. After an apprenticeship with the small theatre orchestra left in Mannheim, he rejoined the main court in Munich as principal cellist taking his father’s position in 1784. By 1798, once more in Munich, he rose to the position of assistant Kapellmeister in one of the most important musical centers of Europe, but in 1807, unhappy at the treatment he received at court and despairing of any further advancement, he left Munich to be Kapellmeister in the smaller and less important Stuttgart court of the new king of Württemberg, Frederick I. After five years he moved again to Karlsruhe, where he spent the last years of his life at the Royal Konservatorium struggling to raise the modest courtly musical establishment to respectability. He died in Karlsruhe. His work as a composer provides a link between the end of the Rococo period and the early Romanticism. He could be able to creat the highest possible level, championing the notion of a German national opera. Infact he had a great love for the German theatre, which had developed independently of the court. Danzi was a talented individual, he spoke several languages and was also interested in contemporary philosophy. He composed vocal and instrumental works, in some cases writing his own texts, and also contributed to arts jornals, while single-mindedly pursuing his vision of a new kind of music theatre. As a result of changes in tastes and style, his works were quite forgotten after his death. He was highly regarded as a person, as a composer and also Kapellmeister. In spite of that he also had to endure much personal suffering and unhappiness during his life.
Danzi is regarded as one of the first composers to use the medium of the woodwind Quintet, which he composed well 24! In these compositions there is an idiomatic treatement of the individual instruments. A. Reicha had then developed what F. Danzi did before him, also composing also a big amount of wind quintets, with more elaborated harmonic figurations and technical difficulties to solve. Danzi composed in most major genres of the time, including opera , church music, orchestral works, and many varieties of chamber music. He was a first-rate cellist as well as a conscientious and by all reports effective orchestra leader and conductor. Francesca Lebrun (1756-1791), a singer and composer, was Franz Danzi’s sister.
Danzi used the clarinet also in a Concertino for clarinet, cello and orchestra also probably dedicated to H. Baermann, great virtuoso dedicatee of most clarinet works of C. M. Von Weber, thinking about a solo instrumantal combination never used before. In the list of his compositions including clarinet there is also a Concerto for flute, clarinet and orchestra, a Symphonie Concertante in E♭ major for Wind Quintet and Orchestra written in 1785, a Wind Sextet in E♭ major, Op. 10, Septet in E♭ major, Op. 10 (arrangement of Sextet Op. 10), Septet in E major, Op. 15, Quintet in F major for Piano and Winds, Op. 53 and a Quintet in D major for Piano and Winds, Op. 54. We don’t know if Danzi thought about the great virtuoso H. Baermann only for his Concertino, having so many compositions including clarinet. Franz Danzi died early in the morning of 13 April 1826. He was sixty-two. Meantime in London Carl Maria von Weber, himself marked by death in the same year, was working on Oberon. The two composers had been friends, and Weber owed his older collegues somuch ,in addition to which he perhaps understood him more than anyone else. ”My poor Danzi” he noted sadly.
The three Potpourris, published in recent times as Konzertstuecke, had actually an original accompaniment of the orchestra but the piano accompaniment could offer a more intimate chamber music feeling. We must remember that more or less in the same period F. Mendelssohn produced two wonderful and brilliant Konzerstuecke for clarinet, basset horn and piano (then orchestrated ), with a special dedication to H. Baermann father and K. Baermann son, being friend of both clarinetists. There is a curious story about the genesis of these pieces: Mendelssohn composed them and the Baermanns cooked special bavarian cakes.
The first Potpourri had unfortunately no dedication, the second was dedicated to Wilhelm Kleine, principal clarinetist of the Karlsruhe Orchestra and the third one to the great Heinrich Baermann, dedicatee of many composition of C. von Weber. The latter has the famous theme from the opera Don Giovanni of Mozart Là ci darem la mano. Danzi is known to have had a highly admiration about Mozart and Beethoven. All three Potpourris have pleasant, beautiful melodical lines and demanding tecnical parts for the clarinet. The Sonata for clarinet and piano has still very classical characteristics in it, with a quite florid, predominant and virtuoso writing for the piano. It can be considered one of the most representative Clarinet Sonatas from the late classical period. The Basset Horn Sonata had been published by Andrè with the optional use of cello. Interesting and I would say unique example of Basset Horn Sonata from the repertoire of that period. The writing is idiomatic and fits well to the good qualities of this instrument, with its peculiar, nasal, dark, soft sound. In the first movement there are often melodical nice themes, in the second movement Danzi wrote the phrases requiring some expression and pathos. The third movement has cheerful figurations and the piano is treated by the composer in a very effective way with many virtuoso passages where the basset horn is accompaining it in the bass register or through Albertino bass figurations. Danzi’s potpourris are a mixture of bravura pieces and solo concertos. Danzi’s passion for potpourris and variations being shared by Spohr and Weber , to name only the two best known composers who applied themselves to the genre. The clarinet compositions here recorded (Potpourris) are very well conceived with appealing melodical themes followed with demanding technical variations. His clarinet repertoire is extremely enjoyable and alluring to be performed and recorded and his music is of high quality, without doubts deserving some good consideration. I am happy to present his solo clarinet production for the first time all gathered together.
Luigi Magistrelli © 2022
Italian pianist Claudia Bracco gained her degree at the age of 18 with top marks at the «Conservatorio G. Verdi» of Milan (Italy), where she also studied and took the diploma of harpsichord. After then she took a year-long classes with Emilia Fadini and Alexander Lonquich and attended master classes with Lazar Berman, Halina Czerny -Stefanska, Massimiliano Damerini, Rocco Filippini, Pavel Vernikov and Alessandro Specchi. She experienced Portogruaro postgraduating International Courses with Marian Mika and Kostantin Bogino (1992) and at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome with Felix Ayo, where in 1999 she gained her degree in Chamber Music. Whilst pursuing graduate studies, she took part into many national and international competitions, obtaining 16 first prizes. She regularly performs, in solo recitals or as chamber musician, in prestigious halls such as Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Teatro Vascello and Auditoruim di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Sala Verdi by the Conservatorio in Milan, Teatru Manoel in La Valletta, Filharmonii in Lublin. Since 1988 she has regularly taught in master classes together with eminent musicians such as Glauco Cambursano, Patrick Gallois, Raymond Guiot, Franco Gulli, Conrad Klemm, Jean Pierre Rampal, Radovan Vladkovic. Claudia Bracco has realised many fine recordings for Talent Records, Dad, Leonarda, Bayer Records. Her discs include music by Beethoven, Caplet, Desenclos, Rudolph, Hoffmeister, Damase, Mozart, Paisiello, Schubert, Weber. Since 1994 she has been professor of Chamber Music at the Conservatory in Como.
Magistrelli, Luigi (Clarinettist), Luigi Magistrelli was born in S.Stefano Ticino, near Milan,Italy. He studied clarinet at the Conservatory of Milan with Prof. Primo Borali and attended some master classes with D. Kloecker, K.Leister and Giuseppe Garbarino. He has performed as a soloist with the Orchestras of Pomeriggi musicali , Angelicum, Teatro Litta ,Radio of Milan,Città di Magenta ,Vivaldi Val Camonica, Haydn Chamber Orchestra, Grande Orchestra Romantica , and others. He has also performed with many chamber groups (from duo with piano to large ensembles also of contemporary music). He played as principal clarinet with Sanremo Symphony Orchestra and as extra player with the orchestras of Pomeriggi Musicali, Angelicum, Gaspare da Salò, Cantelli, Radio Orchestras of Milan and Turin, La Scala Strings , Orchester der Jahrhundert in Germany, Musica Aeterna of Perm (Russia) and Moldova Radio Symphony and many others. He has participated in some tournèes with the International Orchestra of Italy. He has won some prizes at the Competitions of Genoa and Stresa. He has performed in the principal cities of Italy and also in Swizerland, Malta, Austria, Belgium, Latvia, ex Jugoslavia, France, Spain, Africa (National Theather of Nairobi), India, Germany, Finland, Israel, Mexico, U.S.A, Canada, Russia and in duo with the pianist Sumiko Hojo in the Czech Republic, China and Japan. He has recorded 55 Cd’s of chamber music and also as a soloist, for Pongo Classica , Bayer Records , Nuova Era, Stradivarius, Arta Records (on early clarinets) , ASV, Clarinet Classics,Urania/Leonardo, Centaur Records, Talent Records, Gallo, Brilliant Classics, MDG and Orfeo with the well known clarinetist Dieter Kloecker, with the orchestra La Scala Philharmonic conducted by R. Muti for Sony Classical, with Milano Classica Orchestra for Dynamic and with Cremona Barock Orchestra for Tactus. He has recorded also two Mozart Cds for Camerata Tokyo with Prof. Karl Leister, well known solo clarinet player of Berlin Philhamonic for 34 years. He recorded for the Italian Radio and BBC of London. He edited unknown clarinet works for Eufonia, Accolade, Trio Musik, Poco Nota Verlag and Musica Rara. He is the chairman for Italy of the International Clarinet Society and performed in many clarinet congresses around the world. He held master classes and lectures in Italy, Bulgaria, Belgium (Brussels Royal Conservatory), Austria (Mozarteum Salzburg, Vienna University), Germany, China, Latvia, Spain, Czech Republic, Israel (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Music Academy), South Korea, India, Mexico and USA (Mississippi Southern University, South California University). He has a personal clarinet collection of 240 instruments of any kind. He is Professor of Clarinet at the Conservatory of Milano.
(b Schwetzingen, bap. 15 June 1763; d Karlsruhe, 13 April 1826). Composer, son of (1) Innocenz Danzi. He studied the piano, the cello and singing with his father and at the age of 15 joined the celebrated Mannheim orchestra. When the Elector Palatine Carl Theodor transferred his court to Munich in 1778, Danzi remained in Mannheim, in the orchestra of the newly established Nationaltheater. He studied composition with G.J. Vogler and before leaving Mannheim wrote a duodrama, a Singspiel and incidental music for at least eight plays.