BECK / GOSSEC: Symphonies (Andrew Walton/ Nicholas Ward/ Northern Chamber Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.553790)
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Born in Germany, but spending most of his life in France, Franz Ignaz Beck became better known as Francois Beck.
He died certainly in 1809, and was born seventy-five years earlier, but much that happened between is open to speculation. He was certainly an oboist and singer in his younger years, and probably fled to Paris after supposedly killing his rival in a dual following a jealous intrigue.
He wrote a whole series of Sinfonias (early symphonies) all of which date from his time in France.
He was obviously a very cultured and sophisticated composer, and modern commentators on his music have described his Sinfonias as \among the most original and striking of the pre-Classical period". There have even been suggestions that he was an inspiration to Haydn, Boccherini and Beethoven, though those claims may be highly exaggerated.
New editions of his music are now being prepared in New Zealand by Artaria Editions, upon which these versions recorded by the Northern Chamber Orchestra are based.
The discs were made in the new recording home of the Northern Chamber Orchestra, at the Victoria Hall in the town of Bolton in North-West England, and whilst Nicholas Ward is credited as the Director of the orchestra, the Northern Chamber are playing, as always, without a conductor. The precision and brilliance of their performances can only cause concern for the conducting fraternity.