Théodore Gouvy is a prime example of a composer being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although he lived much of his life in Paris, his musical interests were not in line with the Parisian fashions of the time. Rather, much of his output focused on more absolute symphonic and instrumental works characterized by the German masters. Despite being much admired by notable contemporary composers such as Brahms, Liszt, and Berlioz, Gouvy's music never found as much of an audience during his lifetime as theirs did, and much of his output lay dormant for a century or more. This Sterling album represents the first recordings of three works: the Symphony No. 2 in F major, Paraphrases symphoniques, and Fantasie symphonique. All three works show a clear, unmistakable connection to Beethoven in their vivacious rhythm, masterful orchestration, keen use of melody in slow movements, and gripping drama. Performing these woefully neglected works is the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen under Thomas Kalb. Exceptional balance, pristine intonation, vibrant colors and textures, and ensemble cohesiveness all characterize the WPR's playing, and Kalb captures the impact and finesse of Gouvy's music with careful attention to detail, moving use of dynamics and rubato, and well-chosen tempos throughout. Listeners who enjoy the symphonic works of the German Romantics will doubtlessly enjoy this fine and long overdue addition to their collections.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Symphony No. 2 in F major, Op. 12|