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CD Review

Franz Ignaz Beck

Mannheim Symphonies

  • Sinfonia in D Major, Op. 4 #4
  • Sinfonia in G Major, Op. 4 #5
  • Sinfonia in E Flat Major, Op. 4 #6
  • Sinfonia in D minor, Op. 3 #5
Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice/Marek Štilec
Naxos 18th-Century Classics 8.573249
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Further music of Beck on Naxos:
3 Symphonies w/ Op. 10 #2 & Op. 13 #1 (8.553790):
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6 Symphonies Op. 1 #1-6 (8.554071):
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6 Symphonies Op. 2 #1-6 (8.573249):
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe - JPC
4 Symphonies Op. 3 #1-4 (8.570799):
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4 Symphonies Op. 4 #1-3 & Op. 3 #6 (8.573248):
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe - JPC 4 Symphonies Op. 4 #4-6 & Op. 3 #5 (8.573249):
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe - JPC

Classical Net readers, meet Franz Ignaz Beck. A student of Johann Stamitz, he wrote many symphonies (or Sinfonias) at the court of Mannheim. Naxos has done lovers of the Classical symphony a great service with at least four prior volumes of these delightful works, this would be the fifth. Conductor Marek Štilec has made somewhat of a name for himself in today's critical circle by championing Fibich, but has also made a previous volume of Beck's symphonic works. On evidence here, he's very good at it.

The first thing you notice is that the playing is beautiful. I'm okay with Classical works on modern instruments, especially if you play as stylishly as here. The general trend these days seems to be "if it's obscure, play it on period instruments". Why? Naxos has not taken that approach in previous releases, though they have insisted on chamber forces. This is fine too. The warmly singing, yet also quite exciting playing of these Czech forces will bring joy to many a listener. Naxos captures Czech winds better than anybody (witness the exceptional Rossini overture series that concluded in 2014), and they sound gorgeous here. Perhaps the continuo is a little forward in the mix, but these never turn into harpsichord concertos, either.

These aren't especially masterpieces, and they don't have to be. They are tuneful, well-contrasted, and occasionally surprising examples of the early symphonic movement that anyone with an interest in the time period needs to hear. In Marek Štilec, Naxos seems to have an artist of varied tastes and abilities who is worth watching for a long time. The sound is as lovely as the orchestra. This is a real find, and I hope Naxos continues this series.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman

Trumpet