Louis SPOHR (1784–1859)
Grand Concert Overture in F major WoO1 (1819) [6:31]
Symphony No 1 in E flat major Op 20 (1811) [36:36]
Symphony No 2 in D minor Op 49 (1820) [30:48]
della Svizzera Italiana/Howard Shelley
rec. Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland, 11-15 September
2006. DDD HYPERION
What CPO have done for Ferdinand
Hyperion promise to do for Spohr and they certainly do it
in style – look at the session time! Marco Polo have done
all the symphonies, many of the concertos and most of the
chamber music across some 34 discs. Accordingly Hyperion
are not going to be first in the field - except in relation
to the overture. However they do lavish shining care on these
performances and their technical aspects. The results are
very fine in every respect.
start with some orientation. The music is in broadly Beethovenian
style but here we are talking early Beethoven – at least
up to and including the Eroica. And before anyone
takes me to task for parallels being drawn with works that
may not have been written at the time I make these comments
merely to help listeners find their bearings. Other references
including late Mozart – symphonies 40 and 41 and even a skim
of Schumann from the Fourth Symphony. You can hear the latter
as well as the rippling tension of Eroica and Jupiter in
the imposing Grand Concert Overture herereceiving
its first recording.
first of the ten symphonies written between 1811 and 1857
is supple, broad and splendid in its autumnal Mozartean charm
as well as in its more tempestuous hauteur. Echoes of Mozart’s
Symphony No. 41 are not infrequent but then we also hear
music that links with Beethoven 3 and 6. There are some memorably
sturdy horn-lofted climaxes in the finale. The First Symphony greatly
impressed London’s then newly fledged Philharmonic Society
and such was the warmth of the reception that Spohr immediately
set about writing the Second Symphony for them. He
completed this work very quickly. This symphony has a sanguine
and buoyant character. After a gentle larghetto comes a ripplingly
vivacious Scherzo which at times might almost be by Mendelssohn.
Each of the two symphonies is in four movement format. Both
found enduring favour with British audiences of the time
and this only began to fade in the 1870s. It is no surprise
that they should have done so well because although they
are obviously indebted to others they have an honest and
good-spirited élan which is heard to perfection in the finale
to the Second Symphony.
Spohr was feted in his time yet his music sank deeper than
plummet’s plunge after his death. It was an undeserved fate.
Apart from the clarinet concertos which have kept a lively
shelf life it was only in the 1980s that his music began
to resuscitate. Can we soon hope that some label will do
a similarly accomplished and comprehensive job for Cipriani
Potter as others have done in style for Méhul and Weber?
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