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Seyfried (1776–1840) is not a composer I’ve previously encountered, though I was at least aware of his work as a conductor – for example, he took charge of the original version of Beethoven’s Fidelio – and he left absorbing accounts of the premiere of The Magic Flute by Mozart, whose pupil he was for a time. He wrote over 300 compositions in all the genres popular during the first half the 19th century. But with figures such as Beethoven as a close contemporary, it’s no wonder his music has been largely overlooked. On the strength of the sacred works on the present CD, it’s really no wonder: the B minor Missa solemnis is hardly above the workaday, with conventional and, frankly, often dull writing for orchestra and chorus. In any case, Seyfried’s cause is hindered by this recording from Polish forces under Fr Mieczyslaw Gniaddy. The choral lines are often strained above the stave, intonation is poor and attack lacklustre. The quartet of soloists is unequal to the task in hand, though the orchestra makes a better fist of things with some attractive woodwind playing. The recording is poorly balanced and unfocused, with the orchestra sounding distant.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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