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Cat. No. CHAN 10458 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10458 - Marsh: Symphonies Nos 2, 6, 7 and 8/ Conversation Symphony
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Available From: 01 February 2008
The Contemporaries of Mozart series with Matthias Bamert and the London Mozart Players is one of Chandos’s longest-running projects with over 20 recordings in the catalogue. It is much praised for its high standards of musicianship and recording, as well as introducing a wealth of undeservedly neglected music to the market with several discs being selected Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’.

This latest instalment features the music of John Marsh, one of the most prolific composers in eighteenth century England, yet today sadly ignored. ‘…Marsh’s symphonies have such charm that their neglect seems inexcusable’ writes Richard Gorer in Grove Music. His oeuvre spans nearly all the genres of the period and at a conservative estimate his compositions number well over 350, including 39 symphonies. This fruitful output is all the more remarkable since he was not trained as a professional musician but as a lawyer. He was also a gentleman of varied interests including campanology and astronomy, and his thirty-seven volumes of journals (now published) are among the most valuable sources of information on life and music in Eighteenth-Century England.

Marsh organised much of the music-making in the cities of Southern England where he lived, particularly the cities of Salisbury (where he met personalities such as Carl Stamitz and the violinist Wilhelm Cramer) and Chichester where he took charge of the subscription concerts virtually continuously for some forty years. The symphonies performed here represent the varied styles that Marsh utilised in writing for the musicians in the cities where he worked, revealing a composer well-versed in the requirements of the mixed professional and amateur provincial orchestras he encountered.

It whilst in Salisbury that Marsh composed four of his nine published symphonies, now known as the ‘Salisbury Symphonies.’ Recorded here are symphonies No.8, 2 and A Conversation Symphony for Two Orchestras. Symphonies No.8 and 2 receive their premiere recording with this release. These works show a clear influence of Abel and J.C Bach with a keen awareness of orchestral colour, chiefly in A Conversation Symphony which rather than use two orchestras separates one orchestra into two parts so as to pit high instruments against low. Taken from the collection known as the ‘Chichester Symphonies’ are Symphonies No.7 and 6; of which No.7 is also a premiere recording. Marsh was one of the first musicians in England to appreciate Haydn's stature, and his finest surviving symphony, A Favourite Symphony, No.6 in D major, pays particular homage in a four-movement work scored for full Classical orchestra including trumpets and timpani.

Characterised by their strong melodic appeal and artful scoring for wind and brass, these works compare favourably with many of his more ‘professional’ continental contemporaries and this recording is sure to increase interest in Marsh’s music.

"As ever in their Contemporaries of Mozart series, Matthis bamert and the LMP give carefully prepared, well paced performances, rhythmically lively without falling into autopilot, and balancing polish with a down-to-earth directness crucial to Marsh’s music. Among a clutch of expert soloists, the horns deserve a tip pf the hat for their brave braying in the brief ’hunting’ symphony, No 7. The recording made in St Jude-on-the-Hill in north London, has an attractive bloom."


"In sum then, this music radiates the optimistic and hedonistic spirit of the age, and the polished London Mozart Players have never sounded as though they are having so much fun. Utterly irresistible, and guaranteed to put a spring in your step, put thecolour back in your cheeks and blow the winter cobwebs away."

International Record Review

"As always in this series, the London Mozart Players under Matthais Bamert provide impeccably stylish performances."

BBC Music Magazine

"One who hasn’t heard Marsh’s work before will surely be impressed by this. The playing is as fine as one could wish, and the Chandos recording – and notes – are both superb."

American Record Guide

"It is all played with customary flare and elegance by the London Mozart players. They display an obvious relish for these works, and clearly enjoy the opportunities Marsh presents to strut their stuff individually… The pulse of his conducting is fluid but disciplined, and he pays close attention to matters of texture that can achieve rare importance at time in these almost chamber-like symphonies ... This definately rates a strong recommendation."


"This CD reflects great credit on the London Mozart Players and conductor Matthias Bamert. The sound quality is superb."

Daily Mail


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