on 3 June 2000
When you hear these 8 symphonies you will notice that William Boyce (1711-1779) is a very great and enjoyable english baroque and rococo composer. Try listen to the "symphony no. 8 in D minor" especially the last movement and you will think: How great the music was in the 18th-century. The outstanding conductor Trevor Pinnock and his authentic instruments ensemble The English Concert gives a first-class, lively and superb performance. This cd is highly recommendable.
on 25 May 2010
These works are classics of the English baroque by one of the great names of the 18th century. Boyce wrote for many occasions, but the world of public entertainment is to the fore here. The works are not classical (Haydn- and Mozart-type) symphonies at all. They generally follow a fast, slow fast format and have a simple structure. This is not deep music, but it is definitely rewarding. There are varied orchestrations and some fantastic movements featuring trumpets and drums. Few people could fail to enjoy this music.
As always, Pinnock and his band give lively and well-articulated performances.
on 21 March 2011
These symphonies are from the no-nonsense school of English composition, dating from a time when Italian music (and Italian everything else) was venerated out of all proportion to its actual merits. To be an English composer in those days you had to be humble. Boyce's music is supremely functional and unpretentious. It's the kind of music a minimalist orchestra hired for the evening to entertain the company at Vauxhall Gardens would have had in their repertoire. The movements making up these symphonies don't outstay their welcome. They are all short and sweet, averagely under 3 minutes, but full of bright melody and springy rhythms, perfect for pleasing the ear of people who are moving around and chatting rather than sitting and listening intently. It's the kind of music I like to have on when I'm working on DIY projects.
This very well-recorded disc was made in 1986 and is a model example of its type.
Pinnock is really in a class of his own when it comes to this repertoire, helped in no small measure by the excellence of the English Consort.
These symphonies are fine examples of English orchestral music of the mid to late 1700's and all are enjoyable without reservation. Boyce was highly respected and a major musical force during his lifetime.
Collectors are now spoiled for choice as there is another, equally enjoyable set available with Hogwood, also highly sympathetic to this period and also supported by skilled period players. Pushed to a choice, I would probably go for Pinnock. Fortunately I don't have to make such a difficult choice as I have owned both recordings for many years and enjoy them both whenever I hear them.
I would suggest that collectors would probably wish to own both. Those looking for an 'only' version could be satisfied with either and certainly would find Pinnock to be a completely satisfying experience. I would have to say much the same for Hogwood though ....!