Howard Griffiths / NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

Louis Spohr: Symphonies 7 & 9; Erinnerung an Marienbad

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With this hybrid SACD of the Symphony No. 7 in C major and the Symphony No. 9 in B minor, Howard Griffiths completes his impressive series with the NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of the complete symphonies of Louis Spohr. A prominent figure of the early Romantic era, Spohr composed in a conservative style derived primarily from Mozart, which over time became little more adventurous than Weber, and he was skeptical of the bolder innovations of Beethoven, Berlioz, Liszt, and Wagner. Even so, these are programmatic symphonies, in keeping with the Romantic taste for musical depictions, so the Seventh Symphony bears the subtitle, "The Earthly and the Heavenly in Man's Life," and the Ninth is called, "The Seasons." Spohr's symphonies are fairly general in their scene painting and philosophical underpinnings, so they are not as specific in narrative details as, say, Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique or Liszt's Dante Symphony. But the music is appealing for its warm orchestration and memorable melodies, and the frequent flashy passages for solo violin in the Seventh are a cheerful reminder that Spohr was a great violin virtuoso, rivaled only by Paganini, and he clearly wrote them for himself. The pair of symphonies is rounded out with a set of charming waltzes, Souvenir of Marienbad, which was inspired by the waltzes of Johann Strauss I.

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