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Vanhal: Symphonies

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (11 Feb. 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B0012GSKAI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,096 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Vanhal : Symphony in D minor Bryan d1 : I Allegro
  2. "Vanhal : Symphony in D minor Bryan d1 : II Arioso, ma non lento"
  3. Vanhal : Symphony in D minor Bryan d1 : III Menuetto - Trio
  4. Vanhal : Symphony in D minor Bryan d1 : IV Presto
  5. Vanhal : Symphony in G minor Bryan g1 : I Allegro moderato
  6. Vanhal : Symphony in G minor Bryan g1 : II Andante cantabile
  7. Vanhal : Symphony in G minor Bryan g1 : III Menuetto - Trio
  8. Vanhal : Symphony in G minor Bryan g1 : IV Finale - Allegro
  9. Vanhal : Symphony in C major Bryan C11 : I Allegro con brio
  10. Vanhal : Symphony in C major Bryan C11 : II Andante cantabile
  11. Vanhal : Symphony in C major Bryan C11 : III Finale - Adagio più andante - Allegro
  12. Vanhal : Symphony in A minor Bryan a2 : I Allegro moderato
  13. Vanhal : Symphony in A minor Bryan a2 : II Andante cantabile
  14. Vanhal : Symphony in A minor Bryan a2 : III Menuetto - Trio
  15. Vanhal : Symphony in A minor Bryan a2 : IV Allegro
  16. Vanhal : Symphony in E minor Bryan e1 : I Allegro moderato
  17. Vanhal : Symphony in E minor Bryan e1 : II Andante
  18. Vanhal : Symphony in E minor Bryan e1 : III Menuetto - Trio
  19. Vanhal : Symphony in E minor Bryan e1 : IV Finale - Allegro

Product Description

‘These are works of vivid and lively invention which also embrace a wide diversity of approach… The Concerto Köln play with spirit, enthusiasm and style…’ (Penguin Guide)

Customer Reviews

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Czech born composer,Jan Vanhal made his career in Vienna,a city that musically flourished during the 2nd half of the 18th century.He was without question a highly gifted musician who excelled in the composition of the symphony and his efforts during the late 1760's and 1770's are every bit the equal of those from Haydn.Vanhal left 51 published symphonies and many others survive in manuscript.He is often referred to as one of the finest "sturm und drang" composers and this is indeed true together with the likes of CPE Bach,Franz Beck and Joseph Haydn.

The quality of Vanhal's symphonies deserve a far better discography (on period instruments) than is currently available,therefore this 1996 recording from Concerto Koln is all the more welcolme.The playing is technically excellent,the sound is superb and they observe the correct and historically accurate use of harpsichord continuo which we know was standard practice and widespread during the 1770's when the vast majority of Vanhal's symphonies were penned.

The only slight drawback for me about this recording is that the faster movements are occasionally just a little too hard throttled and driven although it can of course be argued that this intensity is essential to "sturm und drang".However if you listen to Trevor Pinnock's English Concert recording of Haydn's same period symphonies,the tempos are very lively but not pressed too hard and therefore strike a perfect blend of zest and sensibility,something that the Concerto Koln performances just miss and tend to be a shade overly dramatic.

Never the less this CD can be recommended to all lovers of 18th century orchestral music because Vanhal's compositions of the period yield to nobody and i can only hope that further period instrument groups begin to commit a much more comprehensive account of his symphonies to disc - They most certainly merit it !!!!!.
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Johann Baptist Vanhal was one of the more talented of those composers at work in the Vienna of Mozart; the New Grove (1980 edition) lists around 73 extant and authenticated symphonies and he appears to have been productive in this genre between the late 1760s and the mid 1780s. He was highly regarded by his contemporaries and his music a regular part of concert life; it was even played as far afield as the USA by the 1800s. He has a reputation for writing minor key symphonies in the `sturm und drang' style; only one of the works in this set is in a major key.

They are inventive works and the opening movements to three of them are fine examples of his "singing allegro" style, which eschews the `jagged' thematic writing of much contemporary `sturm und drang' music; the one example of the latter is the first work on the disc, the symphony in D minor. The opening allegro movements are relatively succinct, primarily on account of the brief development sections but his music is always inventive. The slow movements have an appealing lyricism that suggests a vocal inspiration to his melodic writing - three of the `andante' movements here are qualified by the instruction `cantabile' and one is marked `Arioso: ma non lento'; the latter movement has some appealing writing for the flute, nicely realised here in these period instrument performances.

The C major symphony at the centre of this collection is the only one in three movements and the only one to include trumpets and timpani (as you would expect in a symphony from this period); it is also the only one with a title - `Sinfonia Comista/con per la Sorta Diversa'.
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An astonishing first movement sets off a fabulously energetic set of some of Vanhal's best symphonies, played by probably the top period instrument band in Germany, Concerto Koln.
This disc is the most vital performance of Vanhal's works I have in my collection, far better in interpretation and recording than any others I know of, and the equal of many of the best recordings of 18th century symphonies, Haydn's and Mozart's included. Cliche or not, this recording is truly a classic of the gramophone and perhaps the finest representation of the phenomenon of the 18th century 'Sturm and Drang' (Storm and Stress) music. This movement was centred in Austro-Hungary in Vienna and not far from that city in the town of Eisenstadt, home of Joseph Haydn. Only the great Haydn's middle period symphonies surpass Vanhal in this style of composition.
Vanhal's symphonies are by turns stormy, nervous, lyrical and tender. Vanhal's energy takes over where C P E Bach left off and gives Mozart's Don Giovanni a run for his money in drama and energy. The minor keyed symphonies, particularly the D minor, G minor and A minor are anxious, nervy pieces that are memorable enough to leave you with earworms!
Listen how the second symphony starts off slyly, gradually creeps up on you, prods you playfully in the ribs, then runs off round the park poking fun at anyone who gets in the way!
The third symphony on the disc, Sinfonia Comista, is different from the rest, a grand striding piece, swaggering with a Mozartian confidence in the first movement called 'La speranza' (Hope). There is again a tender second movement - as the excellent sleeve note says, 'Il sospirare e languire' - ' longingly, sighingly, languidly'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vanhal Symphonies 8 May 2009
By Michael M. Keyton - Published on Amazon.com
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This is an impressive performance on period instruments of five symphonies by Johann Baptist Va'hal, a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart. Four of these symphonies are from the "Sturm und Drang period of the late 1760s and early 1770s. In the Bryan catalog the symphonies are d1b, g1, a2, e1, and C11. This is the only recording I know of d1, a2, and e1. C11 "Comista" occurs on Naxos (8.554341 and g1 can be found on Phoenix (duplicated on Capriccio) or on Arkadia.
Va'hal, who used the spelling Wanhal, was one of the most significant composers in Vienna. He composed at least 81 symphonies, some of which are outstanding by any standard. Even with a limited orchestra, the variety in structures and sounds makes these works attractive.
Concerto Köln plays each work with great skill, good balance with the instruments (though I am not found of the valveless horn of the period), it is always enjoyable to hear a work played perhaps in the style of the composer's day.
As a bonus the notes are written by Paul Bryan, who has assembled the catalog. Thus, this is a "should-not-be-missed" CD, excellent works by and outstanding composer, well-played and discussed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Concerto Koln 29 Aug. 2011
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Faster Better? -- Sturm und Drang from Vanhal 22 Mar. 2015
By bejart7092 - Published on Amazon.com
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Possibly the first Viennese musician of the classical era to support himself as an independent composer and teacher, Jan Vanhal (1739-1813) he did not work under the patronage of any nobility for the last 30 years of his life. Like his more famous contemporaries Haydn and Mozart, Vanhal was a leading proponent of the Sturm und Drang movement, composing at least 73 symphonies, including the 5 on this recording.

One of his more popular symphonies, the D Minor opens with a blistering `Allegro'. Wide skips in melodic themes, sudden pauses and extended silences, exaggerated dynamic markings, a driving bass line and a fondness for minor keys - all the typical elements of Sturm und Drang symphonies are here.

Having recently reviewed Vanhal: Four Symphonies, the question occurs: Is faster better? By using a blazing velocity, Concerto Koln virtually ignores a cascading series of triplets in the violin led melody line, a throw-away sacrificed for the raw power and sheer drive of their reading. In contrast, a more deliberate pace allows the Heidelberg group to lay bare the internal structure of Vanhal's writing.

Better? Or just different? The muscular vitality of the Concerto Koln version is undeniable, but the interpretation by Kalb shows the depth of Vanhal's composition.

Adroit use of winds colors the following `Arioso, ma non lento', which features a lovely sighing motif in the upper strings. After a leisurely `Minuetto', the closing `Presto' bursts forth in a furious tempo. While not too fast for the difficult double tonguing demanded in the horn section, it does push the limit and establishes a striking contrast with the more fluid string passages that dot this vigorous finale.

A distinctive chirping figure in the violins characterizes the 1st movement `Allegro' of the G Minor Symphony. Taken with hushed urgency and punctuated with abrupt pauses, it displays Vanhal at his best. Aria-like, a single violin starts the `Andante catabile' and is soon joined by a solo viola for a gorgeous duet. A rather pedestrian `Minuetto' provides a respite before the finale, a vigorous `Allegro' that leaves the listener breathless.

Trumpets and booming tympani herald the opening `Allegro con brio' of the symphony in C Major, which features deft use of sudden dynamic changes. Nominally in three movements, it is also the only composition in a major key. Even here, Vanhal exhibits a penchant for the moody and dramatic as the gentle `Andante cantabile' is in minor as is the following `Adagio' that functions as a brief intro to the joyous `Allegro' that closes the work. Tympani and brass return to propel the movement to a rousing conclusion.

Muted string passages alternating with sudden attacks of horn-driven fanfares power the triple metered `Allegro moderato' that begins the A Minor Symphony. Also in triple meter, a graceful `Andante cantabile' precedes the following `Minuetto'. Led by jaunty violins and shadowed by horns, the 3rd movement contains a contrasting trio for a solo oboe with a wonderful series of scatting triplets in the upper strings. The only section in duple meter, the closing `Allegro' alternates hushed urgency with shrieking strings at breakneck speed to create a marvelous finale, one that ends surprisingly peacefully.

Unexpected interjections from the horns lace the triple metered `Allegro moderato' of the symphony in E Minor. After a placid interlude by a charming if less than memorable `Andante', and an equally forgettable `Minuetto' with another wind dominated trio, the work and the disc close with a brawny `Allegro'. Employing a dramatic rising arpeggio and sharply contrasting shifts in dynamics, the finale roars to a terrific conclusion.

Brimming with vigorous energy and boundless enthusiasm, Concerto Koln rips through these 5 symphonies with obvious delight. Showing a clear affinity for the faster outer movements, they also bring an easy elegance to the more sedate inner sections. The recording by Das Alte Werk/Teldec/Elatus is fine, clear and detailed.

If you're looking for an appealing alternative to Mozart or Haydn, these excellent symphonies by Jan Vanhal are a superb choice.

PS. Be aware that this disc is included in the 6 disc set Dall'Abaco / Locatelli / Cannabich / Vanhal / Kozeluch / Eberl: Concerto Koln, and may be a better value.
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