According to the notes, Ernst Wilhelm Wolf, the Kapellmeister at the Court of Weimar for 19 years, was the composer of dozens of harpsichord sonatas and concertos, about 35 symphonies, of which at least 26 have survived. Surely, then, there must be more recorded evidence of the musical life of Wolf than four discs of concertos, two of which are out of print, and this newly released disc of four symphonies with Nicolás Pasquet leading the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra of Weimar. No, this is it. Fifty-seven years hitched to the plow of music then as good as forgotten shortly after his death in 1792, the year after Mozart. Does he deserve it? Probably not: by the evidence of this disc, Wolf could turn a good tune, shape a fair form, cut a dashing figure on the dance floor, and was a dab hand with the woodwinds. Pasquet leads stylishly sympathetic interpretations and the orchestra plays Wolf with just the right combination of enthusiasm, restraint, and virtuosity, which are the mark of a true ensemble. Will Wolf ever beat out Mozart or Haydn in the great composers of the late eighteenth century sweepstakes? No, and he won't beat out Kraus or Rosetti or Dittersdorf, either. But, every once and a while—or maybe only once—Wolf deserves to be heard. Naxos' sound is nicely clean and pleasantly balanced.
© James Leonard, All Music Guide
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