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Wesley: Symphonies CD


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Product details

  • Conductor: Matthias Bamert
  • Composer: Samuel Wesley
  • Audio CD (18 May 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B00004TD54
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,416 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony in D major 'Sinfonia obligato' 1781
2. Symphony in A major - 1784 or after
3. Symphony in D major 1784
4. Symphony in E-flat major 1784
5. Symphony in B-flat major 1802

Product Description

Product Description

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Amazon.co.uk

The English composer Samuel Wesley (1766-1837) wrote six symphonies, which hardly compares with his European contemporaries Haydn and Mozart who wrote 104 and 41 repectively. The five played on this Chandos CD by the London Mozart Players under Mathias Bamert have charm and vitality as well as obvious classical form and certain un-European eccentricities. The first in D, for instance, composed in 1781, includes an organ soloist who emerges from the ensemble on a skittish run. His presence keeps the music ecclesiastical which would have suited the wider Wesley family. Their modern religious thinking was far-reaching in its influence. Wesley's finales are inspired. The second in A has a smiling, whistleable tune not unlike Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith. The third in D bounces out on a merry round dance. The last in B flat plays out the disc on a brilliant racing fugue. Funny if England were to discover she had composers back then after all. --Rick Jones

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Wolfgang Augustine Linley on 16 Aug 2007
Format: Audio CD
I had never heard of Samuel Wesley before I discovered this CD - the only CD of symphonies by an Englishman in the 'Contemporaries of Mozart' series - it may well have been the case that Wesley was the only real English contemporary of Mozart (except for Linley, who did not compose any symphonies in his short life). I think it is the case that he is rather overshadowed by his illegitemate son Samuel Sebastian, and thus sadly forgotten. However, he was a very prolific composer, and his music was written at a time when fine English music was scarce, following the death of such great composers as Thomas Arne, Thomas Linley and William Boyce. In fact, it was Dr. Boyce who, in 1774, said to Wesley's father 'Sir, I hear you have got an English Mozart in your house. Young [Thomas] Linley tells me wonderful things of him'. The term 'English Mozart' is in fact far more applicable to Thomas Linley (It was a term also curiously applied to Arthur Sullivan!). Unlike Sullivan, Wesley and Linley both composed music at the same time as Mozart and in a similar (but certainly not identical) style. Wesley's symphonies of the 1780s can certainly be described as 'Mozartian', but they are highly original and inventive, exhibiting a great aptitude for tunefulness and sound orchestration. There are also some beautiful slow movements, such as the Andantino in the Symphony in D Major (1784). It is very interesting to hear English classicism, something that is quite rare, but sublime when one does discover it. The first four symphonies were composed around 1784, and the last in 1802. We can only speculate what occured in the intervening years, for the style in the 1802 Symphony in B flat major is remarkably different.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Scott N. on 21 July 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the third copy of this disc I have purchased - one for myself and two for friends! I should say we all enjoy Haydn's and Mozart's Symphonies and I have complete collections of both. However, we were all pleasantly surprised by Wesley's works which are both quirky and tuneful :-) He seems to have had a wonderful gift for melody as this lovely recording shows and how refreshing it is knowing there were other works of quality around between Linley and Elgar!

One other reviewer described Wesley's Symphonies here as dull and routine? Rubbish! Listening to the other recordings in this CHANDOS series, you begin to feel that the other composers of mainland Europe were just following a routine format and I found those discs rather dreary and uninteresting. Wesley's is not and is rather like as breath of fresh air compared to the rest :-) The organ obligato in the first piece came as a lovely surprise, although it is his last work of 1802 which is my favourite, full of invention and shows Wesley at his best!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Excellent recording. I was not familiar with Samuel Wesley's music until I bought this cd. I don't pretend to be an expert but what a pleasure to listen to marvellous tunes from an English composer.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Parker on 11 Aug 2006
Format: Audio CD
Samuel Wesley, as Britons so well know, was a member of the numerous clan of composers of Anglican curch music, Methodist and Anglican-friendly hymnody (notably Charles Wesley), and one exponent of the Arminian theology (the famous "hot-gospeller", John Wesley, who so heartlessly and ruthlessly persecuted the elderly Calvinistic hymnodist, Augustus Toplady) that has led to the rise of modern sectarianism. Samuel Wesley (not to be confused with his bastard son, Samuel Sebastian Wesley, a more important figure), is a composer of much interest for the sake of his choral and organ works, but whose symphonies, especially considering the times of their composition, are of rather tediously faceless and stylistically retrograde compositional quality. The printed notes that come with this CD make much of Wesley's use of form, but, truth be told, the music with which Wesley fills the formal outlines is of only scant interest, too formulaic and tepid to stir up much interest except among antiquarians.

Of these symphonies, the one in D major ("Sinfonia obligato" of 1781) is something of a "sinfonia concertante", including among the highlighted instruments the organ (playing genuinely solo music, not mere continuo filler), which makes that work automatically of interest to fanciers of that keyboard instrument. The only symphony that compels true musical interest, and even at that to a rather pallid degree, is the last one in B-flat major of 1802. which has a richer orchestration, somewhat greater length, and more musical heft than the slighter earlier symphonies.

The performances are about as good as such routine music can be said to merit, and the London Mozart Players really do play very well.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
One of the more interesting Mozart contemporaries 6 Sep 2010
By Roger Burks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Unlike many of the composers featured in the Contemporaries of Mozart series, Wesley had a consistently strong gift for melody. More than just an inoffensive disc to listen to while working, every so often Wesley will impress with his sense of the musically impressive. He's definitely the only composer I've heard from this series that could hold a candle to Haydn, much less to Mozart. Also, this is the only disc from the series that I'd recommend buying in its entirety instead of just sampling mp3 files from. Wesley may not exactly be a genius on the level of the true masters, but he is clearly able to compose interesting, melodic music that will capture your attention if you like the classical period of music.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Mere Symphonic Antiquarianism, This Disc's Music, but Well Rendered 11 Aug 2006
By Gerald Parker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Samuel Wesley was a member of the numerous clan of composers of Anglican curch music, Methodist and Anglican-friendly hymnody (notably Charles Wesley), and one exponent of the Arminian theology (the famous John Wesley) that has led to the rise of modern sectarianism. Samuel Wesley (not to be confused with his [...] son, Samuel Sebastian Wesley, a more important figure), is a composer of much interest for the sake of his choral and organ works, but whose symphonies, especially considering the times of their composition, are of rather tediously faceless and stylistically retrograde compositional quality. The printed notes that come with this CD make much of Wesley's use of form, but, truth be told, the music with which Wesley fills the formal outlines is of only scant interest, too formulaic and tepid to stir up much interest except among antiquarians.

Of these symphonies, the one in D major ("Sinfonia obligato" of 1781) is something of a "sinfonia concertante", including among the highlighted instruments the organ (playing genuinely solo music, not mere continuo filler), which makes that work automatically of interest to fanciers of that keyboard instrument. The only symphony that compels true musical interest, and even at that to a rather pallid degree, is the last one in B-flat major of 1802. which has a richer orchestration, somewhat greater length, and more musical heft than the slighter earlier symphonies.

The performances are about as good as such routine music can be said to merit, and the London Mozart Players really do play very well. However, it would have helped if the conductor, Matthias Bamert, had brought more legato to the phrasing of the fast movements as well as more expectably to the slower ones. The chugging and churning do not help to make a case for music that really has too little intrinsic melodic profile, which tends to wilt what meager measure there is there is of that character in Wesley's symphonies when the phrasing is obscured by so much détaché articulation. However, Bamert does not indulge in this so excessively as some other conductors among his contemporaries more brutally do, so, in the final consideration, one must lay the blame for the music's facelessless at the foot of the composer himself, not at the collective feet of the conductor and of his players.

This is a good and conscientious effort at recording by-ways of the orchestral repertoire, but the music lover is advised to become acquainted with Samuel Wesley's choral and organ works before delving into this orchestral music.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Worthwhile 11 Jan 2014
By Laura Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Very nice symphonies, well written with more than just a few moments of sublimity. Well-performed and a nice addition to anyone's musical library.
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