Many music lovers have never heard of George Onslow. He's called "The French Beethoven" - but inaccurately so. We'll hear that Romantic composer along with a dash of Schubert.
In 1819, Franz Schubert penned an overture for a melodrama titled "Die Zauberharfe" (The Magic Harp), a tale of good and evil with an elaborate plot and a gruesome motif: the burning of a child. Fortuitously that doesn't happen in the end.
Beginning solemn and mysterious, Schubert's stage music points to the grim subject matter but is mostly inspired by the happy end. Embracing the listener with delicate but strong colors, Schubert's "Magic Harp" might be "only" incidental music, but the way Anima eterna plays it, it sounds big.
George Onslow, a Frenchman born in England, was very popular in Germany four decades after Beethoven's death.
"There's a lot insignificant music around," said conductor Jos van Immerseel in an interview for DW, "but also a lot of very, very good material that's neglected." Asked about George Onslow, Immerseel continued, "you can't compare him to Beethoven. His music is far more elegant and refined, not as revolutionary - but very good."
Overture to "The Magic Harp," D. 644
Symphony No. 4 in G Major, op. 71
Anima Eterna Bruges
Jos van Immerseel, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Welle, Bonn (DW) in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn, on October 3, 2015
Rebroadcasting rights: one broadcast before January 24, 2017