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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67616
Recording details: September 2006
Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Michael Rast
Release date: September 2007
Total duration: 6 minutes 31 seconds

'Howard Shelley and his skilled orchestra are attentive to the music's lyrical charm and colourful wind scoring' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The playing is generous in energy and rhythmic impetus, not to mention elegant, and the lines are beautifully wrought. The performances make as good a case for Spohr’s music as do the annotations' (Fanfare, USA)

'The first two symphonies … are well worth an airing, and their finales in particular have a great deal of life … Howard Shelley's direction is highly effective' (Manchester Evening News)

'The Grand Concert Overture (1819) here receives its first recording. It is sonorous, spirited and beguiling … an enjoyable entrée into the symphonies recorded here as well as signalling the fine performances and sound to be found on this Hyperion release. These works show both ‘muscle’ and lyricism … Spohr’s construction and scoring is of a high order; the music trips lightly and curvaceously. The Second Symphony (1820) begins in dramatic fashion, the ‘introduction’ proving to be integral to the movement as a whole, its unhurried demeanour embracing dignity and lightness. The movements that follow once again contain ideas that make immediate attraction – a warm-toned Larghetto, a scurrying scherzo and a mercurial finale … there are ten symphonies by Spohr. Maybe Hyperion intends to record the cyclethe label has previously championed Spohr's chamber music)? It would be welcome … his music is genuinely enjoyable and not without novelty and Howard Shelley and this fine orchestra certainly have its measure' (

'Tout en souplesse, la lecture de Shelley supplante forcément celle d'Alfred Walter, par ses tempos plus amples et plus contrastés. En espérant que d'autres chefs donneront bientôt à ces musiques plus des rythmes et de relief, on trouvera ici une honnête version d'attente donc, accompagnée d'un superbe Caspar David Friedrich en couverture et d'un excellent texte de présentation' (Diapason, France)

Grand Concert Overture in F major, WoO1
summer 1819

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
By the time Spohr came to write his Grand Concert Overture in F major in the summer of 1819 his career had passed through some important stages. He was orchestral leader at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien from 1813 to 1815, he made an artistic tour of Italy in 1816–17, and later in 1817 he accepted the post of opera conductor in Frankfurt. But Spohr’s high artistic aims clashed with the down-market and penny-pinching policy of the theatre’s chief director and he resigned in September 1819 with the knowledge that he had under his belt a lucrative contract with London’s Philharmonic Society for the following season.

On 29 November 1819, shortly after his resignation, Spohr’s concert overture was played at the Leipzig Gewandhaus and then it was packed ready for the trip to London where part of his contract with the Philharmonic Society was that he should present them with a new, unpublished orchestral work. The overture was played through in London on 3 April 1820 at the Society’s trial night, at which possible works for future programmes were evaluated. However, there was no available spot for it in the 1820 season so its London premiere was delayed until 21 March 1821. Today Spohr’s still-unpublished autograph score is in the British Library’s Philharmonic Society archive.

The overture’s Adagio molto introduction in the tonic minor includes the germ which provides the main motif of the Allegro vivace. The work is notable for the recapitulation starting with the second subject, something not uncommon in Spohr’s violin concertos but rarer in his symphonic pieces, and it inhabits the same soundworld as the forthcoming second symphony, a work inspired by and written for the Philharmonic Society orchestra.

from notes by Keith Warsop © 2007
Chairman, Spohr Society of Great Britain

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