Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Benda:Sinfonias Nos. 7-12 - Prague Chamber Orchestra, Benda

Jirí Antonin Benda (Georg Anton)
Sinfonias Nos. 7-12
Praque Chamber Orchestra, Christian Benda
Naxos 8.553409

The twelve symphonies, not published as a set, are all in three movements, developed from the Potsdam style of the Graun brothers. The Sinfonia No. 7 in D major starts with a lively Allegro assai, followed by a minor key Larghetto with two flutes providing a contrast of timbre. The sinfonia ends with a final Presto, interrupting the gentle mood of the preceding movement, but bringing its own distinct contrasts. Sinfonia No. 8 in D major starts with a crescendo worthy of Mannheim. There is a moving minor key slow movement and a brisk final Spirituoso. Sinfonia No. 9 in A major opens boldly with a texture in which the horns assume importance. The following minor key Andante, an oboe aria, leads to a robustly cheerful final movement. Sinfonia No. 10 in G major starts with the customary call on the listener’s attention and goes on to make playful use of a recurrent octave figure, with an active rôle for bassoon and other wind instruments, which have a prominent place in the movement that follows the very brief Andante. Sinfonia No. 11 in F major, after a first movement that has its own light and shade, moves forward to a central Larghetto, again lyrically poignant in its minor key. The sinfonia ends with expected triple metre Allegro. Sinfonia No. 12 in A major opens with an Allegro that provides brief moments of contrast in mode. The second movement is marked, with a momentary lapse into Latin, as Andantino semper piano, follows without a break. Here the flute has a leading part to play; briefly interrupted by the horns before the movement comes to an end. The sinfonia finishes with an Allegro in a work that, together with Benda’s other symphonies, was once claimed to have rivalled those of Haydn and Mozart in contemporary popularity.

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