JOHANN WILHELM WILMS: Sinfonie und Solokonzerte (Forgotten Treasures Vol. 4 – Music on Historic Instruments) = Clavier Concerto in C Major; Symphony in E Flat Major; Flute Concerto in D Major – Paolo Giacometti, hammerklavier/ Martin Sandhoff, flute/ Cologne Academy/Michael Alexander Willens, director – ARS Production multichannel SACD ARS 38 024, 1.2 hours [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
Another obscure European composer here comes to our attention, with some of his most listenable works given superb performances in 5.1 hi-res surround sound. Wilms’ dates were 1772-1847 and his lifelong hero was Mozart. He created roughly 15 concertos and concerto-like works over less than 20 years, including eight piano concertos. Wilms made his home in the Netherlands, though he was of German origin. Similarly, the pianist here – Paolo Giacometti – was born in Milan but is centered in Holland. He performs on a 1815 fortepiano, which seems to fit the lively and positive mood of the concerto perfectly and is well-balanced with the chamber orchestra. This early Wilms concerto would fit right in with any program of Mozart piano concertos without taking a back seat.
The Symphony in E Flat may have been the composer’s first. He used the fundamental structure of the later Haydn symphonies, although the finale is modeled on Mozart’s Symphony in E Flat Major KV 543. The Symphony came out the same year as Beethoven’s Eroica and was thus overshadowed, but it is a lovely work, showing shades of a cyclical approach to symphonic form. Wilms himself accurately described his D Major Flute Concerto as “not grandiose and passionate, but somewhat brilliant, light and very pleasing.” Surround sonics are slightly distant, but clean and natural-sounding.
– John Sunier