BOMTEMPO: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2

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Joao Domingos Bomtempo (1771-1842): Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2

Joao Domingos Bomtempo was born in Lisbon in 1771,the son of an Italian oboist, member of the orchestra ofthe Royal Court of Lisbon. He studied music in Lisbon'sPatriarchal Seminary, and in 1795, after his father'sdeath, he was appointed principal oboist of thatorchestra. Unlike most Portuguese composers of theeighteenth century who went to Italy to pursue theirmusical studies, Bomtempo established himself in Parisin 1801. He was, certainly by nature as well as byeducation, a cosmopolitan personality, as may also beconcluded by the fact that he was a free-mason.

In Paris, and later in London, Bomtempo developeda brilliant career as a pianist and composer. A friend ofMuzio Clementi, he absorbed the new pianistic style ofthis Italian composer, pedagogue and music publisher.

The success of his public concerts led to the publicationof his works by Leduc. After the first performance of hisfirst symphony in Paris in 1809, he established himselfin London. Clementi became his publisher, and his firstsymphony was published as Opus 11, in a four-handspiano version.

In 1820 Bomtempo returned to Lisbon, where in1822 he founded the Philharmonic Society, with whichhe widely contributed toward the development of thePortuguese musical establishment. In 1833, when theLisbon Conservatory of Music was founded, he wasappointed its Director. He also published variouspedagogical works, including a Method for the Pianoand Elements of Music.

Bomtempo composed music for different musicalensembles. Among his works, the most important onesare, in addition to many compositions for the piano, hisfive concertos for piano and orchestra, his Requiem inMemory of Camoes and the two symphonies hereincluded, although early musicologists mention that hecomposed a total of six symphonies.

Symphony No.1 shows the influence of Haydn andMozart. It follows the classical form despite the fact thatthe second movement is a Menuet, and not the usualAndante. The first movement has a slow introductionand its Allegro section follows sonata form. The Menuethas the usual contrasting Trio and the third movement(Andante sostenuto) develops along the lines of a freeset of variations, with an emphasis on the use of thewind instruments. The work is scored for two flutes, twooboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns andtimpani. The oldest existing copy of the full orchestralscore is in the handwriting of a copyist. Curiously, it hasno trumpets. Since the timpani part is independent ofthat of the horns, and since the symphonies whichdirectly influenced Bomtempo do not use timpaniwithout trumpets, I have added two trumpets to thetimpani part. The score and parts of this symphony werepublished in 1963 by the Calouste GulbenkianFoundation in Lisbon.

Symphony No. 2 is a work of much larger scope anddimension. Its musical style is clearly more Romanticthan that of the first symphony and its form muchbroader and more fluid. Of particular interest is thelyricisim of the Allegro moderato, which follows theslow introduction of the first movement. Its sheer sizereminds us of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. Equallyoriginal is the second movement, whose rhythmiccharacter is interrupted by a theme which resemblesmore an operatic aria than the middle section of anorchestral slow movement. Also noteworthy is the easewith which the Trio becomes part of the Menuet and thefreedom with which the Finale develops, alwaysfollowing the sonata form but without apparentsubmission to any pre-established musical form. Theorchestration of the Second Symphony is the same as thatof the first, with the addition of two trombones. Perhapsthis indicates that Bomtempo may have knownBeethoven's Pastoral Symphony at the time when hecomposed this work.

Alvaro Cassuto
Item number 8557163
Barcode 747313216321
Release date 08/01/2004
Category Symphony
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Composers Bomtempo, Joao Domingos
Bomtempo, Joao Domingos
Conductors Cassuto, Alvaro
Cassuto, Alvaro
Orchestras Algarve Orchestra
Algarve Orchestra
Producers Walton, Andrew
Walton, Andrew
Disc: 1
Symphony No. 2
1 I. Largo - Allegro vivace
2 II. Minuetto
3 III. Andante sostenuto
4 IV. Presto
5 I. Sostenuto - Allegro moderato
6 II. Allegretto
7 III. Minetto: Allegro
8 IV. Allegro
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