Hyperion Records

Symphony No 2 in D minor, Op 49
By the time of the second symphony Spohr had moved on stylistically. The direct influences to be found in the first have gone, except for the Haydnesque jokey second theme in the finale. In the first movement Spohr steers clear of the conventional slow introduction; instead, he opts for a fast introduction in the main Allegro tempo of the movement before the arrival of the first-subject proper on the strings, a passionate theme tinged with melancholy and typical of Spohr. When the second subject is reached the music gives the impression of being at a slower tempo, brought about by Spohr’s use of longer note values for the theme. However, the rhythmic accompaniment in the strings reminds us that this is still Allegro. The final part of this second subject is extracted from the symphony’s introduction. This introductory material and the first subject are combined imaginatively in the development which shows Spohr’s mastery of harmony and modulation at its best. The introduction returns as if heading for a D minor recapitulation, but there is a neat sidestep to the first subject, pianissimo, to start the reprise in the major.

The Larghetto in B flat major contrasts a gently lyrical and richly harmonized melody with a powerful G minor section featuring prominent trumpet and drum outbursts which eventually lead to a grand climax. Then the B flat music returns to wind things down to a peaceful conclusion. There follows a highly individual Presto scherzo in D minor with little trace of Beethoven’s influence. Spohr keeps the dynamics subdued for some time before a sudden flare-up in the major releases the tension. The ländler-like trio in D major gains extra variety from its presentation. In both sections the theme is first heard on winds and timpani only while the repeats are restricted to the strings. When the trio returns after the scherzo has been reprised, the full orchestra joins together to present the theme. There is an impressive coda which, in miniature, even looks ahead to Bruckner’s scherzos.

Although Spohr keeps the D major Vivace finale light in tone, he avoids eighteenth-century stereotypes. After a call to attention, a ‘travelling’ theme is launched which points forward to such finales as those in the D major symphonies of Brahms and Dvorvák. Haydn pops up in the second subject which elicits more humour in the development and there is a short but vigorous coda.

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

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Details for CDA67616 track 6
Recording date
15 September 2006
Recording venue
Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
Recording producer
Ben Connellan
Recording engineer
Michael Rast
Hyperion usage
  1. Spohr: Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 (CDA67616)
    Disc 1 Track 6
    Release date: September 2007
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