Vogel: Three Symphonies

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COMPOSERS: Vogel
LABELS: Oehms Classics
WORKS: Symphonies Nos 1-3
PERFORMER: Bavarian Chamber PO/Reinhard Goebel
CATALOGUE NO: OC 735

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 Reinhard Goebel is disarmingly frank about these symphonies. He acknowledges them as outdated, made up of ‘impressively orchestrated arpeggios…or powerfully inflated unison passages’. But he described his goal as ‘putting the “known” Mozart and Beethoven repertoire into perspective’ and certainly, if your appetite for such masters is dulled, an hour with Vogel will whet it again.

Vogel spent most of his working life in Paris, composer of well-received opera in the style of Gluck, and praised by Gluck himself in a congratulatory letter. His symphonies though are over-blown affairs, a plethora of gestures, clichés and motifs introduced, played two or three times, and then rejected in favour of the next idea.

The Adagios of Nos 2 and 3 include some attractive sinfonia concertante music for wind soloists, admirably played, including some stratospheric horn parts. Other movements tend to be enormously energetic, fast, and driven by furious tremolo strings. 

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Goebel and the orchestra give of their best – technically impeccable, subtly nuanced and wholly committed – in a revealing vignette of workaday music rather than the riches of high art. Never life-changing but thoroughly enjoyable. George Pratt