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Beck: Six Symphonies Op 1 / Armstrong, Et Al


Release Date: 07/19/2005 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8554071   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Ignaz Beck
Conductor:  Donald Armstrong
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

“They are elegant, three-movement symphonies in the Italian Style; the allegros have plenty of energy and impetus, and demand considerable bravura from the violins in their more turbulent moments.…Stylishly played and warmly recorded…excellent modern-instrument performances…” - GRAMOPHONE

Beck’s symphonies have long been regarded as among the most striking works of their kind from the mid-eighteenth century. Their quality makes it all the more puzzling that Beck apparently lost interest in the genre as early as the mid–1760s. Had he brought his formidable talents to bear on the symphony for another twenty years or so he might have left a body of work equal in stature to that of Wanhal or Kraus. Even the earliest of his
Read more symphonies are remarkable for their dramatic flair, rich harmonic language and fluid, inventive part-writing.

The Op. 1 Symphonies, or Overtures as they are styled in the original edition, are short, three-movement works in the conventional fast-slow-fast cycle. The use of a Minuet as a finale in the second symphony is relatively uncommon but by no means unknown in works of this period. Its vigour is somewhat surprising and serves as a reminder that for all its apparent regularity the Minuet was frequently treated in very unconventional ways. The most striking work in the set is the G minor Symphony with its powerful, driving outer movements and unsettling middle Andante. Beck included minor key works in his first three published sets of symphonies (Op. 3 includes two) but surprisingly not in the fourth. These turbulent works have won many admirers among scholars but still remain largely unknown. The other works, however, are no less impressive and display a compositional finish rare among mid-century symphonies. Some of the movements are very short - the finale of Op. 1, No. 6 is a mere 35 bars – but all of them are impressively organized and musically memorable. The opening Allegro of the Symphony in A, Op. 1, No. 3, with its chains of rising suspensions, exudes a fascinating tension about it while retaining a sense of warmth and gentle lyricism. While Beck does not venture into the realms of strict counterpoint his part-writing is always inventive, his textures varied and even in these very early works he displays an unerring sense of orchestral colour.

Allan Badley ( excerpted from album liner notes)
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Works on This Recording

1. Overtures (6) for Strings, Op. 1: no 1 in G minor by Franz Ignaz Beck
Conductor:  Donald Armstrong
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1758 
2. Overtures (6) for Strings, Op. 1: no 2 in F major by Franz Ignaz Beck
Conductor:  Donald Armstrong
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1758 
3. Overtures (6) for Strings, Op. 1: no 3 in A major by Franz Ignaz Beck
Conductor:  Donald Armstrong
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1758 
4. Overtures (6) for Strings, Op. 1: no 4 in E flat major by Franz Ignaz Beck
Conductor:  Donald Armstrong
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1758 
5. Overtures (6) for Strings, Op. 1: no 5 in G major by Franz Ignaz Beck
Conductor:  Donald Armstrong
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1758 
6. Overtures (6) for Strings, Op. 1: no 6 in C major by Franz Ignaz Beck
Conductor:  Donald Armstrong
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1758 

Featured Sound Samples

Overture (Symphony), op 1 no 2: I. Allegro
Overture (Symphony), op 1 no 3: III. Presto

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 1 in G minor: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 1 in G minor: II. Andante
Symphony No. 1 in G minor: III. Allegro
Symphony No. 2 in F major: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 2 in F major: II. Andante
Symphony No. 2 in F major: III. Menuetto - Vivace
Symphony No. 3 in A major: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 3 in A major: II. Andante sempre piano
Symphony No. 3 in A major: III. Presto
Overture in E flat major, Op. 1, No. 4: I. Allegro assai
Overture in E flat major, Op. 1, No. 4: II. Andante
Overture in E flat major, Op. 1, No. 4: III. Presto
Symphony No. 5 in G major: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 5 in G major: II. Andante
Symphony No. 5 in G major: III. Presto
Symphony No. 6 in C major: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 6 in C major: II. Andantino
Symphony No. 6 in C major: III. Presto

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