Karen Geoghegan / Juanjo Mena

Weber: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2; Bassoon Concerto; Invitation to the Dance

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While Carl Maria von Weber was a key founder of the Romantic movement and is remembered mostly as an operatic composer, primarily for Der Freisch├╝tz, his reputation in the concert hall has been sustained by two popular clarinet concertos, a concertino for clarinet and orchestra, and a handful of opera overtures. Much less noticeable have been his two symphonies, which long ago fell into obscurity and which have only been revived sporadically since the 1990s, usually on small labels that promote neglected music. This is a slow process of rehabilitation, especially for a composer of Weber's stature, but these works are gradually gaining recognition as worthwhile pieces. Considerably less significant than the masterworks of Beethoven, they are perhaps more comparable to the symphonies of Spohr, at least in style, content, and audience appeal. This 2012 album by Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic presents the symphonies with the seriously overlooked Bassoon Concerto, played with charm and wit by Karen Geoghegan, and the Berlioz arrangement of Invitation to the Dance. This is an attractive album that will please fans of early Romantic music, and go a long way toward establishing these forgotten symphonies in the standard repertoire.

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