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Franz Ignaz Beck (1734-1809): Six Symphonies, Op. 2 / Thirteen Strings CO, Mallon

Album Summary

>Beck, Franz Ignaz : Symphonies (6), Op. 2
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Franz Ignaz Beck is increasingly acknowledged as one of the most forward-looking and inventive of mid-18th c. symphonists. A student of the celebrated Johann Stamitz, Beck was trained in Mannheim, a focal point of new approaches to orchestral writing. Although small in scale, his Op. 2 set includes some of the most striking and harmonically daring works of their kind from the period. Further Beck Symphonies may be heard on Naxos 8.553790, 8.554071, 8.570799, 8.573248 and 8.573249. Founded in 1976, Thirteen Strings is one of Canada’s leading chamber orchestras. Its repertoire is diverse, covering music from the baroque era to the 21st c. The Irish conductor Kevin Mallon became concertmaster with Le Concert Spirituel and Les Arts Florissants in Paris and led and directed The Irish Baroque Orchestra before moving to Canada to take up posts with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and the University of Toronto. In 1999 he founded the Aradia Ensemble, with whom he has toured widely and has made over 50 recordings for Naxos. In 2010 Mallon was appointed Music Director of Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra.

Gramophone Magazine, September 2015
Memorable tunes are at a premium, though Beck lacks Haydn's gift for sustaining momentum over long stretches. But there's much to enjoy in the chamber-musical finesse of the opening Allegro of the A major Symphony No. 3... and the fizzing first movement of No. 5... Mallon draws spruce, carefully shaped playing from his Canadian chamber forces, always alive to felicities in Beck's part-writing.

American Record Guide, March/April 2016
All these works are available on Naxos, and a few are on CPO. Most performances are quite good. The readings under review here are well done, bracing, quite refreshing, and played on modern instruments with no vibrato. They are enjoyable. If you share my diasdain for sans vibrato performances, proceed with caution. The sound is excellent, as are Bradley's notes.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: St Matthew's Anglican Church, Ottawa, Canada (06/16/2014-06/18/2014).



Reviews

Delightful light listening
Franz Ignaz Beck is considered an early symphonist. His first set of symphonies was publicized in 1756, the year of Mozart's birth. The collection featured in this recording, his Opus 2 set of 6 symphonies was published in 1758 -- around the same time Haydn composed his first symphonies.

These are relatively simple works; each of the six has a compact three-movement structure, alternating fast-slow-fast. The orchestration, as was common at the time, is primarily for strings. Horns are added at times for effect, but these are basically works for string ensemble.

And that's not a bad thing. Beck's music has an elegance to it, which the French found appealing (he was to spend most of his career in France). The melodies are expressive, but restrained. It's easy to hear the roots of Mozart in this music, which perhaps give these symphonies their appeal to my modern ears.

The Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra directed by Kevin Mallon have a few more players on board for this recording (2 horns and harpsichord). Nevertheless, the ensemble has a light, transparent sound that's well-suited to this material. The recording is clean with just a hint of ambient sound.

If you like the early works of Mozart and Haydn, or indeed, classical music in general, you should find these symphonies enjoyable light listening. A nice complement to Naxos' previous release of Beck's Op. 4 symphonies with the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice.
Submitted on 09/23/15 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Beck, Franz Ignaz : Symphonies (6), Op. 2
  • Conductor: Kevin Mallon
  • Ensemble: Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra
  • Notes: St Matthew's Anglican Church, Ottawa, Canada (06/16/2014-06/18/2014)
  • Running Time: 66 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Form: Orchestral