Franz Krommer (1759-1831) was a prolific and very good composer, whose music is now being resuscitated with great and deserved success. It was difficult to be a composer in Vienna at the same time as Beethoven and Schubert, and most of their contemporaries have not survived the pressure. But Krommer managed to retain his personality and originality, becoming the last official director of chamber music and court composer to the Habsburg court under the conservative Emperor Francis I. The first of the two symphonies was published in 1803. Among its many interesting features is a haunting litde trio in the form of a waltz. The second work is much later, with four horns and three trombones, and is in C minor, but ending in the major. In both works, Krommer's knowledge of, and predilection for, the wind instruments is notable. The two works were well worth recording, especially with such felicitous performances and bright, pleasing recorded sound.
This double-CD budget set brings together two performances by Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha, collaborating both times with Georg Solti as conductor. Each disc includes a pair of Mozart piano concertos. The music on the first CD, recorded in 1985, has never been released, because, the booklet asserts, post-production work was needed to clean up the acoustics.
German-born English composer William Herschel (1738-1822) achieved fame as an astronomer, the discoverer of the planet Uranus; but his formal training was musical, and in the early 1760s he composed a series of symphonies, six of which are featured here. They are attractive works in simple forms, all centered on the keys of C or D, scored for continuo, strings, winds, and occasional brass in various combinations. Each has three movements, and none lasts more than about 12 minutes. Not surprisingly, Nos. 14 and 17, which feature horns and timpani, pack the largest punch, and Herschel wrote some surprisingly memorable tunes (particularly in the allegros), making these slight works easy on the ear and, if a touch formulaic in construction, seldom dull.
This disc of five symphonies by François-Joseph Gossec (1734-1829) is part of Chandos' Contemporaries of Mozart series. As he was born two years after Haydn and died two years before Schubert, he was also a contemporary of Beethoven as well as many other composers of the Classical and early Romantic periods. Like Haydn, Gossec lead a successful career in music that included composing, performing, teaching and various directorship positions throughout France. (Yes kids, you can make money in music, no matter what your parents say!) As would be expected, Gossec was highly prolific, producing no fewer than thirty works for the stage, a large body of choral and chamber music, and over fifty symphonies.