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Cat. No. CHAN 9823 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9823 - Wesley: Symphonies
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Available From: 25 May 2000
Wesley’s instrumental compositions include a large body of music for organ and for piano, chamber music and works for orchestra, including a dozen concertos (for violin, harpsichord and organ), several overtures and six symphonies.

The earliest of the symphonies is dated 27 February 1781 and is described, ungrammatically, as ‘Sinfonia obligato’, for violin, cello and organ, with an orchestra of strings and two horns, with ad libitum timpani. The unusual, if not unique, (obbligato) group is used only in the outer movements but the technical demands on the three players, especially the violinist and cellist, are considerable.

The next three symphonies, chronologically, are all modestly scored for strings (with a discreet harpsichord continuo) and two horns. The Symphony in A major (1784 or after) begins with an extraordinary movement that vacillates between a gentle Andante that could belong to Mozart and a contrapuntal Allegro that could belong to Bach. The Symphony in D major (1784) has a lively and unusual first movement notable for its bold unisons and octaves separated by lyrical episodes of almost chamber-like delicacy. The Symphony in E flat major dated 25 April 1784 begins with a sonata-form Allegro that is exceptional, in Wesley’s symphonies, in its varied thematic material.

Wesley’s last symphony, in B flat major, is dated 27 April 1802 and is scored for strings and pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns and timpani. Its outer movements share the monothematic tendencies of the later Haydn, many of whose last dozen symphonies Wesley must have heard during Haydn’s sensational visits to London in 1791-2 and 1794-5. The crowning glory of this extraordinary work is a dynamic finale in Wesley’s unorthodox, monothematic brand of sonata form, full of counterpoint and arresting modulations.
Reviews

‘…one of the most revelatory discographic projects currently underway… Top-flight performances and demonstration sonics – another major landmark in Bamert’s ongoing series.’
BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 9703 (Kozeluch)

‘For those who are willing to venture off well-worn orchestral paths, this is an outstanding choice’.
American Record Guide

‘The performances brim with joie de vivre, and are further commended by the London Mozart Player’s focussed, accurate and committed readings’.
Fanfare

‘The performances are wonderfully idiomatic… the sound is full-bodied and vivid… This disc deserves every success.’
Fanfare on CHAN 9740 (Pichl)

‘Performances of abundant fair and refinement, in superbly detailed sound.’
Classic CD on CHAN 9607 (Vanhal)

 

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