One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free


we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


TROUBADISC

with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation


absolutely thrilling


immediacy and spontaneity


Schumann Lieder


24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs


‘Box of Delights.’


J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue


GERNSHEIM Quartets
a most welcome issue


I enjoyed it tremendously


the finest traditions of the house


music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message


ground-breaking, winning release


Charpentier
screams quality


Surprise of the month


English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement


Support us financially by purchasing this from

François-Joseph GOSSEC (1734-1829)
Symphonies op. IV
Symphony No.1 in D major [10.48]
Symphony No.2 in E major [9.05]
Symphony No.3 in F major [12.14]
Symphony No.4 in C major [12.03]
Symphony No.5 in E major “Pastorella” [12.08]
Symphony No.6 in D minor [14.34]
Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss / Simon Gaudenz
rec. 2018, Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal
CPO 555 263-2 [61.24]

I have sometimes wondered what the musical world would like if Paris, rather than Vienna, had been its centre in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven would be secondary figures, of interest to specialists. The big names would of course be Gossec, Méhul and Cherubini. In that alternative world Gossec, would be the father of the symphony, an equivalent to the position Haydn holds for us. He composed some thirty odd examples of the form, though he later moved away from it in favour of stage works.

Here we have his second set of symphonies. He liked to issue them in sets of six. They have a great deal in common: in the first place they are all individually very short, even by the standards of early Haydn or Mozart; the longest here lasts less than fifteen minutes. They are all in four movements. Each begins with a sonata form allegro, which is followed by a slow movement, a minuet and a very short and fast finale, usually marked Presto. They are all for string orchestra with a pair of oboes or horns, except the last which is for strings alone. There is a good deal of rhythmic vitality, and the themes are attractive though not especially memorable. Occasionally, there is a feeling of greater depth, as in the slow movements of Nos. 3 and 4. The harmonies can be quite adventurous and Gossec is fond of rather jagged and vigorous themes in his fast movements.

You will gather from this that they are all rather similar, and that is indeed the case for the first five. However, No. 6, the only one in a minor key, is rather different in that the themes are more striking, the pathos of the slow movement more affecting, and the minuet is a really forceful affair. I was surprised to read that it is probably the earliest written of the set, as it seems to me much the most interesting. If it is the earliest, then perhaps Gossec simplified his style to meet the tastes of his audience. If it is in fact later, then it shows him becoming bolder and he is the better for it.

In fact, Vienna was of course the centre of the musical world at the time, and if you compare these symphonies with those of Haydn’s middle period, particularly those collected as the Sturm und Drang symphonies in a set by Trevor Pinnock, you realise the difference between very competent, charming and attractive works and those which are something more - except for that sixth symphony here, which suggests Gossec was capable of greater things.

The Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss is a well-established chamber orchestra which specialises in music of this period. Simon Gaudenz won some prizes and has been building a conducting career with a good deal of guest appearances as well as being music director of the Jena Philharmonic. He gives lively and polished performances, with sensitive phrasing where required and without trying to find depths which are not there. The recording is sympathetic and the booklet, whose English translation is a little strange, has a good deal of useful information, including alerting me to the large number of other symphonists who were active at the time.

This is the only recording of this particular set of Gossec symphonies. There are several other recordings of his symphonies, without much duplication among them, so fans of Gossec will want this anyway. Others who are curious about the symphony in France will find this a useful place to start.

Stephen Barber

Previous review: Michael Wilkinson



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger