Top 12 great symphonies you probably haven't heard

Our critics unearth 12 symphonic masterworks overlooked by history.

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Johann Baptist Vanhal

Symphony in G minor (1771)

Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813) lived in Vienna at the same time as Mozart and had a similarly varied career, composing for thechurch, court and the stage. Andlike most composers of the period, he wrote many symphonies, but this one in G minor stands out.

It reminds me of the dark side of Haydn’s character which we hear in his Symphony No 39,  also in G minor, and only written a few years before. Vanhal’s symphony (known as g2 in the Bryan catalogue) has twitchy and energetic first and last movements, a serious-sounding minuet, and a delicious slow movement featuring oboe and pizzicato strings. GA

Essential recording

Symphonies
London Mozart Players/
Matthias Bamert
Chandos CHAN9607

This recording comes from the London Mozart Players’ marvellous Contemporaries of Mozart series on Chandos. Over some 23 CDs, Matthias Bamert brings to these neglected works his usual polish and care. 

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Top 12 great symphonies you probably haven't heard
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