Kozeluch: Symphony in C; Symphony in D; Symphony in A (à la française); Symphony in B flat (L’irresoluto)

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COMPOSERS: Kozeluch
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Symphony in C; Symphony in D; Symphony in A (à la française); Symphony in B flat (L’irresoluto)
PERFORMER: Concerto Köln
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-85495-2
The Bohemian Leopold Kozeluch was by all accounts a wily political operator who at various times managed to rub Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven up the wrong way. But he certainly went down well

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with Vienna’s music-loving aristocracy, achieving fame as a composer, teacher and publisher. On this evidence his success is easy to understand: these bright, fluent symphonies expertly manipulate the Italianate lingua franca of the day with just enough imagination and variety to hold the attention. There are, inevitably, half-echoes of Haydn – in, say, the festive opening movement of the C major, or the minuet of the same symphony, with its juxtaposition of regal pomp and faux-naïf rusticity. On a casual hearing, in fact, many of the movements could pass for Haydn c1775, though Kozeluch’s is the more easygoing personality, with relatively little of Haydn’s dynamic, developmental drive. Still, there’s plenty to enjoy here, whether in the catchy bucolic waltz-minuet of the A major, the C major’s charming pastoral Adagio, or the comic digressions and disruptions of the B flat Symphony (nicknamed L’irresoluto – perhaps in response to Haydn’s Il distratto, No. 60). Playing with its trademark zest and colour, Concerto Köln really lifts this music off the page, bringing terrific rhythmic verve to the Allegros and playing up the humour and theatricality of Kozeluch’s ‘irresolute’ symphony. Richard Wigmore