Cannbich

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COMPOSERS: Cannbich
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Cannbich
WORKS: Symphony in G; Symphony in A; Symphony in E flat; Symphony in C; Symphony in D
PERFORMER: London Mozart Players/ Matthias Barmert
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10379
Christian Cannabich was director of

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the Mannheim court orchestra – a

band famous for its iron discipline,

and for the ‘rocketing’ themes and

suspenseful crescendos exploited by

the composers who wrote for it. He

became a close friend of Mozart, who

gave piano lessons to his talented

daughter; and while Leopold Mozart

was scathing about Cannabich,

whom he called a ‘miserable

symphonic hack’, Mozart himself

rated his compositional abilities

more highly.

Each of the five symphonies

recorded here throws the spotlight on

a different pair of wind instruments

– either flutes, oboes or clarinets.

The imperious initial chords of

the Symphony in E flat major

anticipate the beginnings of one or

two of Mozart’s clarinet-imbued

works in the same key, though the

remainder of Cannabich’s piece is

undistinguished. A few moments

from the remaining works stay in

the mind – the athletic horn parts

in the minuet from the G major

Symphony of 1760; the gentle A

minor melancholy of the Andante

from the A major – but for the rest,

the music serves mainly as a reminder

of how infinitely greater Mozart and

Haydn were. As in the previous issues

of Chandos’s ‘Contemporaries of

Mozart’ series, Matthias Bamert and

the London Mozart Players provide

polished and stylish performances.

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Misha Donat