Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Howard Shelley (conductor)
In this second volume of Spohr’s symphonies, Howard Shelley and the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana continue their exploration of this enjoyable and little-known repertoire. Formerly one of the most significant personalities in nineteenth-century German music, Spohr’s symphonies were as popular as those of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven until he fell from fashion in the later part of the nineteenth century.
Symphony No 4 was quickly acclaimed as the composer’s symphonic masterpiece after its first performance. It is a forward-looking, programmatic work based on a poem by Carl Pfeiffer, ‘The Consecration of Sounds’. Unusually, it features a slow finale, and in this way was an important example to future composers including Tchaikovsky and Mahler. Symphony No 5 is a deeply felt work, pouring out pent-up emotions from dramatic events in the composer’s life at the time of writing with real expressive power.
The disc also features the overture to a cantata Das befreite Deutschland (‘Germany liberated’), composed following Napoleon’s disastrous defeat at the battle of Leipzig in October 1813.