Johann Evangelist Brandl Symphony anticipates Beethoven

This release features two works by Johann Evangelist Brandl, a younger contemporary of Mozart. Their lives were hardly parallel, but both had to deal with the business of music — like finding employment.

Brandl composed his Symphonie Concertante for just that purpose. He used the work as an audition piece for prospective employers (members of the nobility). The Concertante worked, and Brandl landed a post at the Karlsruher Court as first violinist.

The piece is in the early Classical style, light and tuneful. It also features prominent solo roles for the violin and cello.

David and Alexandro Castro-Balbi respectively perform those parts. The pair are well-matched, turning their solo and duet passages into a conversation.

Also included is Brandl’s Symphony in D major, written in 1792. The work is actually quite advanced. To me, it anticipates Beethoven, whose first symphony would appear eight years later.

The themes are big, the climaxes are thrown into sharp relief. And the harmonies sound more like Beethoven than Mozart to me.

Kevin Griffiths leads the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz. The recorded sound has a little bit of a soft-focus for my taste. But the performances are quite good. This is the second Brandl recording by these musicians. I trust there will be more.

Johann Evangelist Brandl
Symphonie Concertante, Op. 20; Symphony in D
Nanthild, das Mädchen von Valbella, Op 50 Overture
David Castro-Balbi, violin; Alexandre Castro-Balbi, cello
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz; Kevin Griffiths, conductor



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