Whilst in Stockholm Crusell studied music theory with Abbé Georg Joseph Vogler (one of the more colourful and controversial of the many theorists working at the end of the eighteenth century), Kapellmeister and tutor to Gustav III since 1786, but it was only at the turn of the century that he himself began composing seriously. As a measure of his success, many of his works were published by Peters in Leipzig; he was the first Finnish composer whose music appeared in print. Vogler, who had been enjoined to found a national music school in Stockholm, must have been pleased.
On paper the overall plan of the C major Divertimento is conventional enough, but the structure is in fact entirely novel. As a wind player himself, Crusell treats the oboe very much as a soloist and many of the gestures derive from the concerto and operatic aria. The first Allegro proceeds very much as a normal sonata-form movement would (the very flexible approach to modulation may well have been learned from Vogler), but the spirited codetta, which gives the oboist the opportunity to show off some high notes, leads not into the expected development section but into a cadenza for the oboe which in turns leads directly into the slow movement. (This practice of truncating the first movement found some favour in the nineteenth century, the best known example being Max Bruch’s G minor Violin Concerto.) The C minor Andante poco adagio is a movement whose gravity is tempered by some smiling turns towards the major mode. Towards its close the mood becomes more fervent, but this is dispelled by the ensuing Allegro, which again follows without a break and is itself little more than a fairly extended introduction to the Allegro vivace finale proper.
from notes by Andrew Mikolajski © 1999