Concerto Koln has provided invaluable service to the music lover and amateur of music from the classical and early romantic era, with its series of recordings (mostly shared between the labels Teldec and Capriccio) of "minor" contemporaries of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, among which Kraus (Kraus, Joseph Martin - see my review - and Joseph Martin Kraus: Sinfonien, Vol. 2), Kozeluch (Kozeluch: Symphonies, see my review), Myslivecek (Il Divino Boemo: Josef Myslivecek Symphonies), Rigel (Henri-Joseph Rigel: Symphonies), Wilms (Johann Wilhelm Wilms: Symphonien Nos. 6 & 7), Rosetti (Rosetti: Symphonies (Volume 1) /Concerto Koln and Antonio Rosetti: Symphonies, Volume 2 - Concerto Köln), Eberl (Anton Eberl: Symphonies - Concerto Köln - I've also reviewed that one), Cannabich and the Stamitz father and sons (but I'm now out of authorized product links, see the comments section for those), the Bach sons, Gossec and the composers of the French revolution: and that's limiting myself to the late 18th and early 19th century, and excluding the concerto recordings. This Vanhal program was recorded in July 1996. The original release, which is what I have, is not listed on this website, but available in Europe under ASIN B000024S1F.
At its best (the outer movements of Symphony in D-minor, Symphony in A-minor and Symphony in E-minor, the scherzo of the latter, the whole Symphony in G-minor, the grandiose and triumphant - trumpets and timpani helping - Symphony in C), the music sounds to me as dramatic and powerful as the most dramatic of Haydn's or Mozart's Symphonies, and with melodic turns-of-phrase that can be as witty as theirs (finale of Symphony in E-minor for instance). The scherzos are vigorous, sometimes a little square rhythmically and repeating too much their basic material. The slow movements (and the trio sections of the scherzos) tend to be somewhat lightweight and galant is style, pretty but plumbing no Mozartean depths. Still, the slow movement of Symphony in G-minor (track 6) stages a felicitous dialogue of solo violin and viola, and the trio section of Symphony in E-minor (track 18), with its dialogue of oboes and horn, is exquisite. Symphony in C is formally original in that it doesn't have a scherzo and trio, but a slow, dramatic, funeral-march-like introduction to the finale instead. This music should appeal to any amateur of Mozart and Haydn, and not just because it gives a documentary view of the rich musical soil from which they emerged (Vanhal is considered to have influenced early Mozart).
I have another version of the Symphony in G minor for comparison, played by Cappella Coloniensis (also from Koln, Germany) conducted by Hans-Martin Linde (Gossec, Vanhal, Mahaut, Kraus: Classical Symphonies). Heard on its own it might seem more than acceptable, but on comparison with Concerto Koln Linde and his band appear heavy-footed and pedestrian; Concerto Koln are definitely more dynamic, unleashed, no-holds-barred, energetic, and much preferable. TT 73 minutes, great notes from Paul R. Bryan.