Notes and Editorial Reviews
These fresh, virile pieces may be the finest musical products of Georgian England, and they are given stirring performances here.
It's a shameful thing that these fresh, inspirating, virile pieces, arguably the finest musical products of Georgian England, should so long have been out of the catalogue as a complete set. And now they have come, it's from an orchestra at Heilbronn in Wurtemberg: at least someone in Germany realizes that we haven't always been a "Land ohne Musik". The performances are worthy, substantially better in most ways than the Brunswick set from America by the Zimbler Sinfonietta which for so long were the only versions available. For a start, they use the reliable edition by Max Goberman
(Doblinger/Universal; miniature scores can be bought, at 5s. 6d. or 6s. 6d. each). Although all eight are fitted on to a single disc—Nos. 1-4 and 6 on Side 1, Nos. 5, 7 and 8 on Side 2—most of the repeats are done. And tempi are pretty well chosen : those three central Vivace movements in Nos. 2, 3, and 4) are taken steadily but with a gentle vivacity, as they should be—Vivace was only a moderate tempo marking in eighteenth-century England. Some of the allegros I feel are just a shade on the speedy side—the opening movements of Nos. 1 and 3, for example: Boyce's textures are by no means simple, and need a little time to be properly articulated. Here, anyway, they often emerge a trifle spongy, which is largely a matter of attack: something of the sheer melodic high spirits, the very English open-air freshness, is missing. But I don't want to make too much of these minor criticisms. Most of the music is finely done—the dances with a proper swing, the French overtures with rhythms that sound sharp but not unnaturally prickly. Boyce's original orchestration is of course followed, with its delicate use of flutes and bassoons, and in No. 5 the trumpets are properly stirring. The opening Pomposo of No. 8—a broad, serious piece, yet like all Boyce essentially genial in the final resort, as these players realize—is outstandingly fine. This disc is marvellous value (eight symphonies at 2s. 21-d. each—devaluation indeed!) and I warmly recommend it.
-- Stanley Sadie, Gramophone [2/1968]
reviewing the original LP release
Works on This Recording
Symphonies (8), Op. 2 by William Boyce
Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn
Written: 1737-1756; England
Be the first to review this title