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This CD of early symphonies contains an unexpected group of works. First of all there is the four-movement sinfonia from Handel’s oratorio, Saul. Since the piece is essentially a concerto grosso its symphonic credentials are slender, to say the least. Where is Giovanni Battista Sammartini who was among the most important composers of the early symphony? Where, indeed, is Vivaldi whose music had a direct effect on the first composers of the symphony? It all seems very odd. The remaining four works are true early symphonies. Johann Stamitz and F. X. Richter were both Mannheimers where the court orchestra was an acknowledged promoter of the new symphonic form. Mozart, appropriately, is represented by his Symphony No. 1 written at the age of eight in London’s Ebury Street in 1764. Haydn’s melancholy F minor Symphony ‘La passione’, the major work of the programme, was written at Eisenstadt some four years later. The Academy of Ancient Music plays stylishly, but I sensed a lustreless element in its musical responses as, for instance, in the first movement of the Mozart where too much of the composer’s youthful ebullience has been ironed out.

Nicholas Anderson Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing