This is a very interesting, agreeable and recommendable disc. Music lovers interested in tracing Wagner's musical development probably ought to know and have in their collections three rarely-played works - the Faust overture, the Wesendonck songs (recently reissued in a performance by Flagstad and Moore) and the early symphony. This last is a work that I find extremely interesting. The liner-note routinely finds the influence of Beethoven in it, which is bound to be true up to a point I suppose, considering that it was Wagner himself who did more than anyone else to promulgate the view that Beethoven represented some turning-point in musical history. While I have no wish to dispute that point, I feel all the same that Beethoven's actual idiom - the way of saying things in music that was uniquely and individually his - finds astonishingly few echoes (I don't count quotations) in later music, very much including Wagner's. In no way does it approach the kind of pervasive personal influence that Brahms exerted (for better and for worse), or that Wagner himself exerted (ditto). Much the most interesting movement in the symphony, I should say, is the first. It consists of a long slow introduction followed by an 'Allegro con brio', the latter happily not subjected to excessive brio in this account. What I seem to hear quite unmistakably is the young Wagner already in search of more elbow-room than the symphonic style he inherited was giving him. The big chords in the introduction seem to be calling out for more space, an impression reinforced by the scoring for brass, which is very unlike the way Beethoven did that. The allegro is neither one thing nor the other I suppose, but once again the fascination for me is in the sense of the true Wagner trying to get out of the egg. This is now the second version of Weber's symphonies in my collection - what a pampered life we live these days! It is a very good and unexceptionable version, and one point of real excellence is the start of the adagio in the second work. Tempi are fast, and the recording is more 'normal' than in the rival account that I own from the Queensland orchestra on Naxos. The recorded sound in that has a quite startling fullness to it, particularly in the bass, but for some reason that very factor, together with a heartiness in the playing that greatly appeals to me, has me preferring it over this. What a pampered life we live these days indeed. If, very rightly, you are looking to collect the Weber symphonies (which are delightful stuff), I would urge you strongly to sample both versions, as your taste in the matter may or may not correspond to my own. The special interest of this disc for me is the Wagner symphony. That at least saves me any sleepless nights over which composer's name to file the disc under. A clear choice is forced on me as Walton occurs in between.