18th Century British Symphonies - Hanover Band / Lea-Cox


Information and Reviews  

Graham Lea-Cox, Conductor

The Hanover Band 

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The Symphony in Britain18th Century British Symphonies features symphonies by native British composers who flourished after Handel - works by Arne, Lord Kelly, Abel, and the almost unheard of British composers Smethergell, Collett and Marsh.  This is the first time several of these works have been heard since the 18th century.

On this CD:

  1. Periodical Overture No. 16 in E flat major 
    Composed by Thomas Erskine 
    Performed by Hanover Band 
    Conducted by Graham Lea-Cox 

  2. Symphony No. 4 in C minor 
    Composed by Thomas Arne 
    Performed by Hanover Band 
    Conducted by Graham Lea-Cox 

  3. Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 2/5 
    Composed by John Collett 
    Performed by Hanover Band 
    Conducted by Graham Lea-Cox 

  4. Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 5/2 
    Composed by William Smethergell 
    Performed by Hanover Band 
    Conducted by Graham Lea-Cox 

  5. Symphony in E major, Op. 10/1 
    Composed by Carl Friedrich Abel 
    Performed by Hanover Band 
    Conducted by Graham Lea-Cox 

  6. Symphony No. 10 in E-flat major (Conversation Sinfonie) 
    Composed by John Marsh 
    Performed by Hanover Band 
    Conducted by Graham Lea-Cox


‘The Guardian’ Classical CD releases, April 06, 2001 

18th Century British Symphonies - Arne; Collett; Kelly; Smethergell; Abel; Marsh   Hanover Band/Lea-Cox (ASV) *****  

   "This collection of six British Symphonies from the late 18th century is highly refreshing. Little is known of John Collett, but his four-movement Symphony Op 5 No 2, published in 1767, is a delight: in its energy it echoes the new Mannheim school, with brazen horn writing. Collett's patron, the Earl of Kelly, Thomas Erskine, studied for years in Mannheim, but his Periodical Overture No 17 is briefer and bluffer. It is in three movements, as are all the rest, including John Marsh's elegant Conversation Sinfonie for two orchestras (1778). With such bright and carefree inspiration in these works, the idea that Handel stifled British composers needs revising.    Edward Greenfield, Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001 


Fanfare (USA), September/October 2001    

    "..all of the readings reflect the current thinking on performance practice: brisk tempos, extreme dynamic ranges, strikingly vivid wind colorations.  …The Hanover Band is one of the oldest period-instrument ensembles around and, with a number of winning releases under its belt, comes to this repertoire with little, if any, trepidation and a generous helping of enthusiasm. ….the horns burst forth from the orchestral texture in a way that I haven’t heard in many a recording.  The pungency of the oboes, the softness of the flutes, and the reedy quality of the clarinets all add their unique colors to the shimmering and silvery quality of Graham Lea-Cox’s impeccable string section.    …  With all of this in its favor, this is sure to be another star in ASV’s already laden crown.”    Robert Emmett 


‘Early  Music Review’ (UK) April 2001    

    “For those with an interest in 18th century music this record is a must, and ranks as a companion to The String Quartet in 18th-cenury England and English Classical Violin Concertos, produced by Hyperion a couple of years ago. ... It has been worth waiting for.  Graham Lea-Cox has obviously researched the repertoire and chosen some of the best works of the period for inclusion. … The Hanover Band is at their best, the recording ambience is excellent, and this CD cannot be too highly recommended.”    Ian Graham-Jones   


The American Record Guide, September/October 2001    

     “…. All are deftly written and supply an inordinate amount of listening pleasure.  Lea-Cox and the Hanover Band give spirited performances that fall on the ear like delicious morsels.”   Bauman


Classics Today, May 2001   For the full review, please see: http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=3302    

     “  John Collett, William Smethergell, John Marsh, Thomas Erskine. Sometime during this disc's 71 minutes you'll wonder why you've never heard of these very fine 18th century British symphonists--but you'll have no doubt about wanting to hear more. From the opening of Erskine's dashing Periodical Overture (Symphony) to the antiphonal interplay of the program's closing work, Marsh's A Conversation Sinfonie for double orchestra, you'll be impressed, entertained and, unless you just hate lively, tuneful instrumental music, just a little uplifted and energized.  … Besides the very high standard of the writing, much of this recording's success is due to the uniformly fine, exceptionally articulate interpretation and vibrant sound of the period-instrument Hanover Band orchestra. Listen to the elegant, eloquent horns in the Larghetto of Arne's Symphony No. 4, and try not to get swept right out of your seat by the churning, driving energy of the opening Allegro of Collett's symphony. And prepare to be charmed by the lovely pastoral Andante of Smethergell's B-flat work and dazzled by the unflagging precision of the Hanover Band strings. The perfectly-captured sound .. brings fully to life the reedy warmth, brassy grit, and burnished buzz of the period instruments, whose quality of tone and technical possibilities this orchestra knows just how to exploit--to blend or contrast--where required.   …. the project provides other benefits, including performing editions {by conductor Graham Lea-Cox} of several of the symphonies, some fine, informative booklet notes, and the hope that these performers will soon record more of this excellent repertoire. In all, this disc is a pleasant surprise, a real find, and unquestionably one of the year's best so far. “   David Vernier


What the public think... 




Von Ein Kunde  Format: Audio CD 

Eine wunderbare Sammlung unbekannter englischer Symphonien. Kenner und Liebhaber der "klassischen" Instrumentalmusik à la Haydn werden sicher auf ihre Kosten kommen.  Die Zahl der berühmten englischen Komponisten ist sehr klein. Aus diesem Grund sind auch Carl Friedrich Abel ud Johann Christian Bach auf dieser CD mitvertreten. Beide trugen mit den erfolgreichen "Bach-Abel-Concerts" auch entscheidend zur Entwicklung der englischen Instrumentalmusik bei. Thomas Erskine, Earl of Kellie wird als bester Komponist Schottlands seiner Zeit anerkannt. Seine Symphonie ist besonders interessant im Vergleich zu seinem jüngeren Freund, John Collett, der seine ersten Symphonien wiederum dem Älteren widmete. Beide spielten eine wichtige Rolle bei der Einführung der Neuerungen der Mannheimer Schule (besonders carl Stamitz') in London.  Wenige werden William Smethergell kennen, der durch eine besonders schöne Symphonie auf dieser CD vertreten. Aber spätestens mit diesem Werk sollte dem Hörer dieser gelungenen Zusammenstellung klar werden, dass auch die verkannten englischen Komponisten des 18. Jahrhunderts bemerkenswerte Musik geschrieben haben. Im Zuge der Wiederentdeckung vieler sogenannter "Kleinmeister" lohnt sich diese Anschaffung allemal.

AMAZON USA   Top Customer Reviews  5.0 out of 5 stars 

Pleasing, Civilised Sounds

By A Customer on September 12, 2001  Format: Audio CD

Graham Lea-Cox continues to explore the byways of British music to the great advantage of all lovers of 18th century music.....I've always thought the Hanover Band perhaps the best period-instrument groups around, but they outdo themselves in this music, with characterful solo work from the strings, liquid clarinet playing, and virtuoso performances from the horns. Wonderfully vivid, stereoistic sound rounds out a package that I can't recommend enough."

AMAZON UK 5.0 out of 5 stars deserves 6 stars

This review is from: 18th Century British Symphonies (Audio CD)

I agree with the previous reviewer -- this disc is a total knockout, and should be compulsory listening to anyone interested in British music, and especially in the music of the much-neglected mid-eighteenth century. These are all splendid works - I also am enjoying the John Marsh double symphony the most, but the others are tremendously exciting pieces too. They share the vigour and rhythmic energy of the typical British music of the period, written by composers used to producing material for the rowdy theatres and the even rowdier pleasure gardens: ear-catching, toe-tapping, and not at all precious, a particularly English combination of late Baroque forms dressed with country dance and folksong elements, all mixed with the graceful melodies we associate with the galant style, evidenced in some beautiful slow movements. The music of Sullivan is not far away from some of them (and I mean that as a real recommendation - another seriously underrated composer!) The performances are equally excellent - dynamic, clear, thrusting, evincing great enjoyment . . . really, this is a wonderful disc..."