Ross Pople

Boyce: Symphonies

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Arte Nova usually turns out respectable budget albums that rarely cause buyer's remorse, but occasionally it produces a CD that isn't much of a bargain. In the case of these 1995 recordings by Ross Pople and the London Festival Orchestra, there is one major omission that is hard to ignore and one minor problem that may be overlooked. The Symphonies, Op. 2, of William Boyce easily fit on a single disc, and many excellent recordings that have them all are readily available, so there is no good reason for the omission of the Symphony No. 5 in D major, which is absent from this collection. Listeners should also note that the Symphony No. 1 is mislabeled on the disc as being in D minor, though it is in fact in B flat major and is not some unfamiliar symphony. These matters, annoying as they are, would not necessarily be deal breakers, were it not for the fact that the performances are merely acceptable and not particularly exciting or appealing. No attempt at period practice was tried, and the lack of a continuo part in these performances may disappoint listeners who have come to expect that sonority in these early Classical works. Furthermore, Pople gets the orchestra to play with accuracy and taste, but the interpretations are far from vivacious or engaging, and the timbres of the ensemble are oddly homogenized and less than distinctive. Add to this Arte Nova's fairly flat sonic dimensions and dry acoustics and it becomes quite easy to pass this collection by.

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