Michi Gaigg / L'Orfeo Baroque Orchestra

Christoph Willibald Gluck: Five Symphonies

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Famous for his innovative operas -- Orfeo ed Euridice, Alceste, and Armide -- Christoph Willibald Gluck is virtually unknown as a composer of instrumental music, and his attributed symphonies and overtures are among his most obscure works. Indeed, this 2011 release on CPO by Michi Gaigg and L'Orfeo Barockorchester almost stands alone in introducing these early symphonies, which show the fluidity of symphonic form as it developed out of the Baroque opera overture into the familiar Classical shape. With as few as two and as many as four movements, Gluck's symphonies neither venture into unusual keys nor explore many possibilities beyond the conventions of galant style, and they sound a bit rudimentary and repetitive. Even so, they have the benefit of a fair amount of flashy concertante writing, so there is considerable interest in the parts for paired winds, and the engaging Symphony concertante in D major offers virtuosic interplay between oboes and natural horns. Gaigg and the orchestra deliver the symphonies with bright timbres and vivacious playing, and the historically informed techniques and sounds of a period ensemble are faithfully produced. CPO's exceptional reproduction makes everything crisp and clear within a suitably resonant space.

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