American Record Guide
, January 2010
These symphonies really got my attention. He was 16 years Mozart’s senior and died some 14 years before Mozart, which means he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know that master’s major works—and yet these four symphonies sound as though they might be early Mozart works. They are not as polished, and they have only three movements, but they are still very fine. Best of all, they have the verve of much early Mozart. According to the notes, almost all of his symphonies were composed before 1772, when he expanded his touring as a concert bassoonist. His last symphony was written in 1776 and reveals a true mastery of the form. Many have declared it “pessimistic”, but it is filled with a true lust for life. Note III with its gorgeous horn melodies and the prominent role for two bassoons.
Born in the state of Hesse, he grew up as the son of an orchestral musician and eventually joined the local orchestra. That gave him the opportunity to tour to Paris each year because of the close relationship of his employer, the local ruler, and the French King, Louis XV. He eventually performed in London with JC Bach before taking a position in Berlin where his fame as a bassoonist spread widely.
He wrote 31 symphonies, fortunately published, because the whole of his manuscript collection disappeared in Berlin in 1945.
The performances are by a polished period-instrument ensemble. The excellent recording was made in a hall where Eichner himself performed. The notes are also very good.