As a young violinist and composer, Karl Stamitz witnessed the development of the modern orchestra in his home town of Mannheim. This was the pioneering work of his father Johann Wenzel Stamitz, who in 1745 was appointed by Emperor Karl VII as lead violinist and conductor of the Mannheim Orchestra. His development of the orchestra and establishment of classical sonata form paved the way for Haydn and Mozart, and established the route for his son Karl (who was a second violinist in the orchestra) as one of the early classical composers. Karl travelled extensively, working in London, Paris and St Petersburg as well as on home territory in Germany. His compositions, which include seventy symphonies and numerous concertos as well as operas and chamber music, display a gift for melodic charm and inventiveness, of which this concerto is a good example as it relies more on this than on virtuoso display. In the first movement, after an impressive and substantial opening tutti, the soloist enters with a forthright but still essentially lyrical melody in the tenor range, which even on modern instruments is still the bassoon’s strongest melodic register. Expressive contrasts are effectively and skilfully created, such as the brief minor section towards the end of the first movement where the soloist is accompanied by the darker sounds of the lower strings. Along with the Mozart concerto, the slow movement is very cantabile, but in the last movement Stamitz opts for a fast and delightfully playful character.
from notes by Laurence Perkins © 2002