For a composer so long neglected, Paul Wranitzky has the good fortune to receive recorded attention twice recently for his entertaining Op. 31 symphony, fortunately with one other that does not duplicate Bamert's fine recording (of 3 of Wranitzky's symphonies altogether) for the pairing. The comments to make on this recording are quite similar to those for Bamert's Chandos CD, the more so since the op. 31 symphony is bound to be most buyer's focus of attention.
This compact disc of two of Paul Wranitzky's symphonies, again in vigourous and musically shapely performances, is one that most music lovers would obtain mainly due to its inclusion of a bit of French Revolutionary lore, a fun if leightweight trifle (yet relatively lengthy at 30 1/2 minutes) called, in one way to translate the title from French to English, "Grand Characteristic Symphony for the Peace of the French Republic" (op. 31). The work is not really a symphony at all in construction, but rather nine pieces linked within four movements which musically depict aspects of the French Revolution, the struggles and a royal tragedy to which it gave rise, concluding with what Wranitzky regards as its peaceful aftermath.
I suspect that the entire work amounts to almost a sort of pot-pourri (medley) or quodlibet, though not quite technically either of these forms, for I recognised lots of musical quotes. Those from works by Luigi Cherubini abound in the first movement titled "The Revolution", which is hardly surprising, since Cherubini arguably was the most important and artistically significant of all composers linked closely to the French Revolution. There are quotes of Cherubini's Médée, from its overture and other passages; since that opera, along with Auber's "La Muette de Portici", was one of the two most flamingly subversive and revolutionary operas ever written, even more so than Verdi's early patriotically-oriented Italain stage works of the Italian Risorgimento, it hardly surprises that Cherubini's themes are so omni-present in the first movement of Wranitzky's work. When the Austrians are characterised in a couple of other movements, the quotes from music by Joseph Haydn are unmistakable, coming as nothing really to be unanticipated, Haydln singled out as at least one composer of the music chosen to represent the Austro-Hungarian Empire as enemy of the Revolution and of Napoleon! I cannot name off-hand the works of Haydn that Wranitzky is quoting, but the themes from Haydn's works sound very familiar. And so it goes.
The other symphoniy by Wranitzky on the CD is much more imposing compositionally, being a good, robust work in Classical Era style, finely orchestrated and engagingly melodic, making this recording of the two works all-round a very pleasant release to acquire and to enjoy on repeated hearings.