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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Boyce - (8) Symphonies, Op 2
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£8.07+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

VINE VOICEon 13 December 2007
Strange how familiar are the sounds on this CD, yet how unfamiliar the name of their creator. Tracks 10, 13 and 20, in particular, are instantly recognisable - 'once heard, never forgotten', in the words of the CD sleeve. In England, home-grown William Boyce (1711-79) may have been overshadowed by his illustrious and imported contemporary, Handel, but this didn't prevent him from gaining prominence on these shores.

Yet how far Boyce represents an authentic English voice is open to question. Certainly, the previously mentioned track 20 (the last movement of his Symphony No 7 in Bb) is marked 'Jigg' - nothing fancy, French or pretentious here then, but the assertion of an identity as English as morris dancing and Northumberland bagpipes. Elsewhere, however, Boyce adopts continental models. Most of his symphonies take the form of either the Italian three-movement sinfonia or the French overture. (It would be illuminating to read Peter Ackroyd for some insight and authority on Boyce's Englishness, or on any other composer's for that matter. Is there a distinctively English musical idiom? It's time to take 'English Music' or 'Albion' down from the shelves.)

In the main, Opus 2 was culled from previous work, much of which was ceremonial or celebratory in nature - which explains the brassy pomp and breezy cheerfulness of the revamped symphonies. (Only one of them, the eighth, is in a minor key.) Movements are short, ideas fluent and forceful. The (English?) emphasis is on simplicity and tunes rather than on (European?) complexity and sophistication. The geniality and instant appeal of much of this music makes Boyce seem like the musical equivalent of his novelist contemporary, Henry Fielding. There can be no quibbling about the performance of the Aradia Ensemble, who present the pieces with brio and aplomb. The sunny disposition and brevity of the Opus 2 symphonies make them ideal for commuting under leaden-grey skies. (Now this prospect, unfortunately, does seem all too typically English.)
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on 7 October 2017
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on 20 July 2017
Excellent recording.
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on 1 January 2012
Included in the 1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die, Aradia's rendition of Boyce's eight symphonies are majestic. Most of the recordings included in the aforementioned book are obviously worth checking out, but by no means exhaustive; in fact they seem to give equal weight to the actual quality of the sound and its recording as well as the music and its performance. This disc falls into the former category. Although Boyce's music may not be the most profound it is certainly charming - and the quality of the present in terms of sound is unparalleled - this is the kind of cd which puts you right in the spectator's box in 1760 - or even on the Thames lapping up the music. It is a crisp, smooth and dynamic texture which allows this lovely music to flourish. Just as Bach managed to mix the best of foreign elements, so too does Boyce; the works here speak of Italy and France and certainly have a continental feel to them. However, make no mistake, this is hearty English music.

Boyce had great respect for Handel and it shows. Yet, this does not impinge on his own originality. Critic Burney praised Boyce for his handling of his own music in terms of being in Handel's shadow, remarking that he did not pillage as so many others did, a habit Handel himself of course was not immune from! This is regal instrumental music at its best: unaffected, sober and refined. Certainly a performance fit for a king. Buy with confidence!
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on 3 January 2012
This is delightful music beautifully played, and a good introduction to Boyce. But am I the only reviewer who minds about the quality of the recording? There seems to be a half-second echo on every note, and as a result the concert hall becomes an annoying presence throughout. I think the music deserves better. Hoping that Naxos now choose their recording venues more carefully.
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on 13 January 2014
I found this slightly disappointing compared with some higher priced recordings. There is not the lively crisp performance that I have experienced before. However given the low price it is acceptable for the good renderings of the slow movements.
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on 18 July 2012
This is an excellent performance & recording,& highly recommended, even more so at this price. CD,in perfect condition, arrived quickly & was given an accurate description. Very pleased.
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on 24 June 2013
Product arrived punctually, in good condition.
Music very charming, just what I expected. It is a pleasure to listen to it. Thank you!
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