Sometimes location matters. Based on the quality of his music, I think Christian Wilhelm Westerhoff (1763-1806) might have had a notable career in Vienna.

Instead, he served at the court of Count Ludwig Wilhelm of Bentheim, one of the minor Hanoverian nobility. Because he remained in the hinterlands, his music remained relatively unknown. Until now.

This is the second release of Westerhoff’s music on CPO. It features three of his concertos; two for viola, and one for flute. Westerhoff’s style is that of Mozart and mid-career Haydn. The movements are finely balanced between intellectual complexity and emotional drive.

And Westerhoff’s music compares favorably to his more-famous contemporaries. His orchestrations have the lightness of Mozart’s. And Westerhoff’s melodies engage the ear. I caught myself humming along more than once.

The viola concertos are especially attractive. The viola part sounds sufficiently challenging, with plenty of double-stops, harmonics, glissandi, and rapid scale passages. Barbara Buntrock performs quite well. Her playing has a rich, singing tone I found especially pleasing.

Westerhoff’s flute concerto is an attractive work as well. No, it’s not quite on par with Mozart’s concertos, but it does compare favorably. Solo Gaby Pas-Van Riet plays with a joyful energy that serves the music well.

If Westerhoff had moved to Vienna, I don’t think he would have supplanted Mozart. But I do think his music would have enjoyed the same success as that of Hummel or Dussek. I’m glad CPO is exploring this repertoire.

Christian Westerhoff: Concertos
Artists: Barbara Buntrock, viola; Gaby Pas-Van Riet, flute; Osnabrücker Symphonieorchester, Andreas Hotz, conductor
CPO