Guy Van Waas / Les Agrémens

The Parisian Symphony

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AllMusic Review by

The development of the Classical symphony is usually associated with Germanic composers, first through the efforts of the sons of J.S. Bach and the Stamitzes of the Mannheim school, then later with Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. But the symphony was by no means limited to this nationality or region, since others went to Paris to take advantage of its orchestral concerts, which promoted symphonies and concertos as the chief forms. Such composers as André-Modeste Grétry, François-Joseph Gossec, Dieudonné-Pascal Pieltain, Antoine-Frédéric Gresnick, and Ludwig August Lebrun are little known figures today, though their inclusion in Les Agrémens' 20th anniversary box set, The Parisian Symphony, provides a context for the symphony's growth in France and its subsequent importance to French Romanticism. These performances, led by the group's director and founder, Guy van Waas, are delivered in period style, with a bright, scintillating sound that is more closely associated with the rococo than with later Classicism. Whether the selections are evenly matched is another matter entirely, since the music of the lesser-lights hardly compares with the symphonies by Haydn and Beethoven, which seem to have been included mostly for the sake of comparison. The seventh disc in this set is an assortment of single-movement pieces by prominent figures of the time, including Antonio Salieri, Christoph Willibald Gluck, J.C. Bach, Étienne-Nicolas Méhul, and Gaspare Spontini, among others, who serve as links between the Classical style and the Revolutionary period that led to Beethoven.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Céphale et Procris (Airs de L'Aurore)
1 1:29
2 5:25
3 3:21
4 2:13
5 3:48
6 2:24
7 5:45
8 2:56
9 2:57
10 1:27
11 3:35
Les Deux Avares (Airs d'Henriette)
12 4:52
13 3:11
14 3:09
Anacréon chez Polycrate (Air d'Anais)
15 1:48
16 1:34
17 3:33
La Caravane du Caire (Air de l'esclave italienne)
18 3:15
19 7:35
Concerto en do majeur, pour flûte et orchestre
20 4:48
21 3:17
22 4:49

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Grande Symphonie No. 1 en mi bémol majeur, Op. 8/1
1 4:35
2 2:36
3 4:00
4 3:28
Grande Symphonie No. 2 en fa majeur, Op. 8/2
5 1:29
6 4:52
7 3:33
8 4:26
Grande Symphonie No. 5 en mi bémol majeur, Op. 8/5
9 5:26
10 4:46
11 3:56
12 3:59
Sabinus (Suite de ballets)
13 3:51
14 3:46
15 1:59
16 2:42
17 1:58
18 6:30
Symphonie concertante en ré majeur, pour violon, violoncelle et orchestre
19 6:51
20 4:38

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphonie à Grande Orchestre en mi bémol majeur, Op. 12 No. 5
1 5:02
2 4:58
3 3:28
Symphonie à Grande Orchestre en ré majeur, Op. 12 No. 1
4 4:59
5 4:41
6 4:35
Concerto en si bémol majeur, pour clarinette et orchestre
7 6:47
8 3:35
9 4:34
Symphonie en do majeur, Op. 12 No. 3
10 7:13
11 5:51
12 3:19
Symphonie D-Dur, VB 143
13 9:08
14 4:55
15 4:32
blue highlight denotes track pick