The first two symphonies here come from a set of six published in 1761 or 1762 as Op.5. All are in four movements and Symphony No.2 in E flat, is scored for strings, two flutes, two clarinets and two horns. It begins with a melodious Allegro moderato in sonata form. The two middle movements are a short ternary-form Romanza and a Minuet with trio.
The finale is a busy rondo with a minore episode. Symphony No.3 in D major is scored for strings, two flutes and two horns. The first movement is in most ways similar to that of No.2 but has a short, slow introduction and ends quietly. The second is a dignified Adagio for strings alone, followed by a Minuet and Trio. The last is a compact mono-thematic sonata-form Allegro in the whirling 12/8 metre of a tarantella, whose dynamic surprises emphasize the Manheim characteristics suggested in the first movement. The next two symphonies come from the set of six published in 1769 as Op.12, all of which revert to Gossec’s original (Op.3) pattern of three movements; both are scored for strings and pairs of horns and oboes. The Symphony in E flat, Op.12 No.5, begins with a slow introduction (Lamentabile) followed by a purposeful sonata-form Presto con furia. This is followed by an elegiac Andante moderato in C minor. The finale is in sonata form with a spirited 6/8 ’hunting’ rhythm. The Symphony Op.12 No.6 boasts an exceptionally bright and tuneful first movement with at least four themes. The tender, lyrical slow movement is notable for its eloquent writing for muted strings and is followed by a binary-form finale.
The last of the five symphonies on this album is the latest and probably dates from 1776 or earlier. It does not have the feel of a symphony at all: the first movement is like an extended triumphal march, the second like a funeral march and the third (Presto, 3/8) a carefree finale.