Abel: Symphonies, Op. 7
La Stagione Frankfurt; Schneider, Michael
Not even thirty years separated Carl Friedrich Abel’s Symphonies op. 7 from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last three symphonies and the Jupiter finale that Johann Christian Bach would hail as a “triumph of new musical artistry” already in 1803. The genre of the symphony had quickly developed into one of the most magnificent genres for musical statements. What makes Abel’s symphonies so unique among those of his contemporaries is not their first movements in what was later known as the “sonata form” or their last movements, which without exception are formed, usually in rondo structure, by dances of folk character like fast contredanses and minuets, but rather their slow middle movements, mostly with the heading “Andante” and frequently “sempre piano” in dynamics, which speak a new and thoroughly individual musical language. Here we are referring not primarily to the examples of the style galant or empfindsamer Stil found in the Symphonies in G major and C major but to the absolutely “hymnic” movements of song character scored exclusively for strings like those in the Symphonies in B flat major and F major. Their almost “proto-Elgarian” tone has what it takes to stir human hearts!