In this first complete survey of the Boccherini symphonies, Johannes Goritzki's achievement is remarkable. Himself a cellist, he shows a natural feeling for Boccherini's special combination of galant and classical styles, revealing the music's strengths rather than its weaknesses, making the most of its colour and revelling in its fecundity of invention and easy tunefulness. The playing - on modern instruments - of the German Chamber Academany Orchestra of Neuss is alert, polished and warmhearted, besides showing a nice feeling for Boccherini's delicate Andantinos, which are never sentimentalized. The recording is excellently balanced and has plenty of life and bloom (Penguin Guide To Compact Discs)
It is a pity that most music lovers know Boccherini mainly (and sometimes only) for the humorous little minuet that appears in The Ladykillers and countless other films. These symphonies are charming and delightful and filled with some of the same humor exemplified by the minuet.
The Hanover Band is a period instrument chamber orchestra based in Sussex, England. It attracted much attention early on for its individual performance style, which often puzzled critics and created controversy. Certain recordings, the Beethoven nine symphonies in particular, have managed to generate both awards and sharp criticism.
In this superb audiophile package of the four symphonies of Robert Schumann, Simon Gaudenz, and the Odense Symphony Orchestra give clear and focused performances that serve to clarify the often-criticized orchestration and to create a nearly chamber-like atmosphere in many passages. By avoiding the conventional homogenous orchestral blend, reducing vibrato in the strings, and emphasizing the distinctive timbres of the woodwinds and brass, Gaudenz brightens Schumann's timbral palette considerably and balances dynamics to make textures more transparent. Beyond this, Gaudenz keeps the tempos fleet and the rhythms spry, and opens up the music to let it breathe.
Heitor Villa-Lobos is without a doubt Brazil's most famous composer and one of the great creative personalities of the twentieth century. His oeuvre is gigantic in its dimensions and perhaps can be compared only to that of Darius Milhaud, who, by the way, was a close friend of his. In any case, Villa-Lobos was the first to introduce the music of Latin America to the world's concert halls, and influences from this music do indeed abound in his oeuvre. cpo is now presenting the first complete recording of his colossal symphonic work complex in a boxed set of seven CDs at a special low price! The SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra under the American star conductor Carl St. Clair has taken on this enormous task, and the result can only be described as a bravura achievement. You can look forward to an orchestral tour de force operating on the highest level!
Kurt Atterberg's richly romantic, colorful orchestral vistas require excellent recorded sound and a no-holds-barred performance to make their best effect, and both of these symphonies previously have been well served in this regard, the Third by Sixten Ehrling on Caprice, and the Sixth by Jun'Ichi Hirokami on BIS (earlier versions of this latter work by Beecham and Toscanini remain mere historical curiosities).
Continuing his impressive series of Anton Bruckner's symphonies on CPO, Mario Venzago leads the Bern Symphony Orchestra in period style performances of the Symphony No. 3 in D minor (1889 version) and the Symphony No. 6 in A major (1881 version), using scores edited by Leopold Nowak. Venzago strives for historically informed performances that give varying perspectives on Bruckner's development, employing different orchestras with each release to reveal important differences in the composer's orchestral conceptions and to show that there wasn't one prescription of how the symphonies should sound. Instead, Venzago rejects the massive and heavy-handed interpretations of the early 20th century and tries to re-create the 19th century sound world in all its variety and intimacy. The glistening, vibrato-less string tone, pungent woodwinds, and crisp brass and timpani are easily distinguished from the more homogenized tone colors of a modern symphony orchestra, and Venzago ensures that these distinctive timbres aren't obscured by keeping the orchestral sections lean and discrete.
One might expect Andrew Manze's interpretations of Johannes Brahms' four symphonies to adhere to ideas of the movement for historically informed performance practice, due to his scholarship and dedication to authenticity in his early music performances. However, and somewhat paradoxically, he and the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra have delivered more or less mainstream readings on modern instruments; there are no signs of late 19th century woodwind or brass timbres, and the strings play with standard vibrato. Yet Manze's historical fact finding has gone to a deeper level than just replicating instrumentation or orchestral scale, and he has found numerous clues to Brahms' intentions in the composer's transcriptions of the symphonies for two pianos, which often vary with the published orchestral scores in accentuation, tempo indications, and phrasing. These are fine points that can be discerned with careful listening and great familiarity with many other recordings of the symphonies, both conventional and historic, but they may not be the main thing listeners will consider in appreciating this set.
One may find a certain simplicity and naïveté in Josef Myslivecek's early Classical symphonies and overtures, since they are fairly rudimentary and barely distinguishable in form; and, lacking the sophistication and complexity found in Haydn's and Mozart's later, fully developed works, they may seem weak and unrewarding to all except scholars and fans of Rococo music. This 2004 double-disc from CPO presents six symphonies composed in 1772, the Symphony No. 5 in G minor, Op. 1, from 1764, and five overtures from operas written between 1769 and 1778. Whether intended as concert works or as operatic introductions, these pieces are uniform in their three-movement structures, and free of any innovative features or peculiarities that would make them stand out from other mediocre symphonies of the time… ~ Blair Sanderson, Rovi