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Penguin Guide, January 2009

VANHAL: Symphonies, Vol. 1 8.554341
VANHAL: Symphonies, Vol. 2 8.554138

Among the many new disc of forgotten music by Mozart’s contemporaries this Naxos issue stands out. These four compact Symphonies are all winningly colourful and inventive, often bringing surprises that defy the conventions of the time. The Esterházy Sinfonia under Uwe Grodd give attractively lively performances with some stylish solo work, vividly recorded.

The second disc in the Naxos Vanhal series is hardly less impressive than the first. The B flat Symphony (from the early 1760s) reminds the listener of both Haydn and Mozart. The D minor Symphony in only three movements, written a decade later, is scored for five horns, yet the main string theme of the first movement is quite haunting. The G minor work (1775) also has an endearingly gracious first movement, although horns are still prominent in the scoring. Excellent, polished performances from the City of London Sinfonia under Andrew Watkins on and very good recording.



Michael Carter
American Record Guide, August 2001

"The Vanhal symphonies are technically exceptional and capable of going toe-to-toe with the middle-period symphonies of Haydn and even several of Mozart's. Vanhal's thematic material is often memorable, and his development sections well worked through...

The City of London Sinfonia is an exceptional advocate for this rare literature. The small modern-instrument orchestra plays poise and panache, production well-paced and architecturally sound readings...they also allow the listener to immerse himself in the undeniable and sometimes enviable glories of Vanhal's art."



Martin Anderson
Fanfare, February 2001

"The three symphonies on this disc (dating, in order of appearance, from 1762-64, 1773-74, and 1775-76) display even more variety and pep than those on Volume 1; there are passages in these works that could pretty well hold their heads up in comparison with Papa Haydn. There's a stirring bounce and vigor to the outer movements, and some delightful tenderness in the slower inner movements, often attended with inventive little touches in the scoring: The strings-only Andante arioso of the B Symphony goes straight for the heart; the doubling of the first violins in the slow movement of the G-Major with the flute produces a gorgeously gentle timbre; the central Cantabile of the Minor is a full-fledge oboe-concerto slow movement somehow rediscovering itself in the middle of a symphony; and this symphony, amazingly for the times, has parts for five horns (more, says Paul Bryan in his excellent booklet note, than in any other 18th-century symphony yet discovered), which give the textures whoop and punch."






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8:22:55 AM, 1 October 2014
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