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Jan Václav Antonín Stamic (Johann Stamitz) 1717 - 1757
Orchestral Trios, op. 1

F10083   [8595017408328]   released 6/1999

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play all Six Orchestral Trios, Op.1 - Pro arte antiqua Praha 68:20
No.1 in C major - Allegro 3:39
No.1 in C major - Andante ma non Adagio 3:11
No.1 in C major - Menuet 2:44
No.1 in C major - Prestissimo 2:08
No.2 in A major - Allegro assai 3:34
No.2 in A major - Andante poco Adagio 2:41
No.2 in A major - Menuet 2:35
No.2 in A major - Prestissimo 2:37
No.3 in F major - Allegro molto 3:24
No.3 in F major - Larghetto 2:07
No.3 in F major - Menuet 4:14
No.3 in F major - Giga.Prestissimo 2:37
No.4 in D major - Presto assai 2:51
No.4 in D major - Andante ma non Adagio 3:10
No.4 in D major - Menuet 2:59
No.4 in D major - Allegro spiccato 2:17
No.5 in B major - Presto assai 3:00
No.5 in B major - Lento 2:41
No.5 in B major - Menuet 2:37
No.5 in B major - Prestissimo 2:34
No.6 in G major - Allegro di molto 2:27
No.6 in G major - Larghetto 2:07
No.6 in G major - Menuet 3:16
No.6 in G major - Prestissimo 2:21

Pro arte antiqua Praha:
Václav Návrat - violin, Jan Šimon - violin,
Petr Hejný - cello, Ondřej Balcar - double-bass,
Aleš Bárta - harpsichord

Of all the members of the large family of musicians, Jan Václav Antonín Stamic (Johann Wenzel Anton Stamitz) is the most famous and musically the most important. His grandfather Martin Stamitz emigrated from Marburg (today\'s Maribor, Slovenia) and settled in Pardubice, Bohemia in 1665. Antonín Ignác Stamitz, the father of Jan Václav Antonín, moved to Deutsch-Brod (today, Havlíčkův Brod) in about 1710, where he was the local organist. About four years later he married Rozina Boëm; they had eleven children, the third of whom was Jan Václav Antonín (born in 1717). The many ways his name has appeared (there are at least nine, including Stamiz, Staimitz, Steinmetz, Stammitz, and Stametz) reflects the complexity in determining relationships between members of the Stamic family. On thing, however, is clear: Jan Václav Antonín, who became renowned as a virtuoso on the violin and also as composer and conductor, came from Bohemia, though owing to the distortions of his name German writing on music tends to emphasize the German origin of the Stamic family and to present Jan Václav Antonín as a descendent of German ancestors with some Slavonic mixed in.
     Stamic received his first musical guidance from his father the organist. His chief instruction on instruments and in composition were at the Jesuit school in Jihlava / Iglau (1728 - 34), and the University of Prague (1734 - 35). The next six years of his life are shrouded in mystery, both concerning where he lived and what he was doing. It is very likely that the young musician was preparing himself for the career of violin virtuoso. He reached his peak, both as a violinist and as a composer, in 1741 after arriving at the court in Mannheim, to where he had been invited by the Elector. In Mannheim he found a number of fine violinists and experienced players of wind instruments.
     After three years in Mannheim, Stamic married Marie Antonie Lüneborn, and they had five children; two of their sons, Karel and Antonín, became composers. In 1746 Stamic became Konzertmeister of the already renowned orchestra at the court of the Elector. Four years later he was appointed to the newly created position of Director of Instrumental Music.
     At first his fame was based predominantly on his violin playing, and he was compared to Pugnani, though as a composer he was considered in the context of the then new style of orchestral playing, whose colourfulness and dynamic effects later gained many admirers, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who visited Mannheim. The contemporaneous sources are in agreement that it was thanks to Jan Václav Antonín that the level of the orchestra was raised to such an extent that many outstanding musicians-not only Mozart-travelled to Mannheim for the express purpose of experiencing the world famous orchestra on the spot. Mannheim was at the time the centre of young German culture, the centre of new fashions in general and new movements in the arts (including Sturm und Drang in literature). In the world of music one soon began to talk about a \'Mannheim School\', whose tangible contribution was a new style of interpretation aimed at affecting the audience directly through music.
     The chief importance of the Mannheim School in the history of music lay in the fact that its composers, following Jan Václav Antonín Stamic, prepared the way to Viennese classicism. With their work they created the bridge from the baroque era to the classicist in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and to the era that linked up to it, romanticism. Representatives of the Mannheim School contributed greatly to the development of the sonata form (with its emphasis on the second subject) and to the symphony (with its four-movement form, including the minuet). In orchestrated pieces the Mannheim Kapelle introduced rich and dynamic shading with sharp contrasts, and effects of sound (such as the crescendo) and of expression (in particular the \'Mannheim sighs\').
     The Mannheim School left its mark on a number of important musicians, including Joseph Haydn, who was strongly influenced by its music in his youth, Christoph Willibald Gluck, the reformer of opera, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the widely travelled Leopold Mozart called the Mannheim Kapelle the best orchestra in all of Germany.
     Jan Václav Antonín Stamic became even more famous throughout Europe after a year\'s sojourn in Paris in 1754, where the \'new German music\' (as the new style of interpretation was called there) had been unusually well received. His church music (a mass) and symphonic work, including the orchestral trios published in Paris, met with unexpected success.
Stamic returned to Mannheim in the autumn of 1755, and within less than two years he died, before reaching the age of forty.
     As a violinist, composer, and conductor, Stamic contributed perhaps more than any other person to the Mannheim School and its historical importance. He managed also to train a number of gifted musicians in the new style, both composers and instrumentalists, who became representatives of the School\'s second generation (including his sons Karel and Antonín Stamic, as well as Antonín Fils, Christian Cannabich, and Franz Ignaz Beck). It was still in Jan Václav Antonín Stamic\'s lifetime that the work of the \'new style\' reached its peak (in the years 1742 - 57) with the arrival of great composers including Johann Sebastian Bach\'s two sons, Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian, as well as František and Jiří Benda, and Jan Gottlieb. Also during Stamic\'s life fundamental changes were taking place in music for both the musicians and the audience. Thanks to the prompt publication of scores, musicians had greater opportunity to perform in concerts for the middle classes, and gradually musicians freed themselves from being dependent on the Church and the aristocracy for their existence.
     The relatively short life of Jan Václav Antonín Stamic, full of enormous creative potential and concert activity, is in many ways reminiscent of the lives of other outstanding composers such as Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert. With Schubert, Stamic also shares the unfortunate fate that after his death his compositions were forgotten and not discovered till much later - Schubert\'s work was not performed till fifty years after his death, and Stamic remained in oblivion for more than a hundred years.
     Only in the second half of the last century and then particularly in the 1930s were the forgotten legacy and revolutionary merits of the Mannheim School, together with a large part of the compositions of Jan Václav Antonín Stamic, resurrected (thanks to the research of the Czech musicologist Tomislav Volek and the German musicologist Peter Gradenwitz). This important period in musical development, which saw the creation of highly interesting compositions involving the most innovative composers active in the mid-18th century, had a revolutionary effect on music. Even today it is still not fully appreciated.
     The extensive body of the work of Jan Václav Antonín Stamic was being assembled before World War II, and other works were added to it after the war, based on copies of the destroyed originals. A number of symphonies, however, remain missing.
     Stamic began with church music, and his sacred compositions (solo arias, masses, litanies) occupy a substantial part of the work he left behind. He also composed a number of chamber works (solo sonatas, trios, divertimentos) and concertos (for harp, piano, flute, oboe, and probably the first sonata for clarinet). He was a prolific composer of symphonies (there are 58 in existence) and of orchestral trios, of which the first six (of a total of ten) were published in Paris in 1755, as Op. 1, under the title Six Sonates à trois parties concertantes.
     Later, in the 1760s, after his death, other work by Stamic was published, particularly in what were then the large European centres of music and publishing - Paris, London, Amsterdam, and, later, Nuremberg (in Haffner\'s publishing house).
     The Orchestral Trio, Op. 1, which is presented here in a version for chamber orchestra, can be located stylistically somewhere between chamber music and orchestral music, though it is classified among symphonic works (the sinfonie of Stamic\'s day). It comprises six compositions in sonata form, which have been preserved in the original versions as first published. Each trio consists of four movements, including a minuet and trio as the third movement, followed by a prestissimo finale. They are all in major keys and share stylistic purity, clarity of motif, concise compositional conception of the individual movements, as well as augmentation and emphasis of the second subject. Thanks to Stamic, too, the consistent inclusion of the minuet in the sonata form was also introduced into symphonic works of the 18th and 19th centuries, where it became firmly rooted.

Jan Šimon

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