“Classical fans in search of worthwhile music from the early nineteenth century would do well to consider the attractive orchestral works of Portuguese composer João Domingos Bomtempo. This 2004 CD from Naxos presents Bomtempo's Symphony No. 1, Op. 11, and the Symphony No. 2, the first two of a total of six symphonies, though these are apparently the only surviving examples. In its Classical framework and jovial mood, the Symphony No. 1 may remind listeners a little more of Haydn than of Mozart, though the influences of both masters are evident. Yet there are also a few hints of Rossini in Bomtempo's music, passages that could be allusions to the Barber of Seville, if they are not merely accidental resemblances. The Symphony No. 2 derives its great length, big orchestration, and heroic bravado from the influence of Beethoven. In its declamatory chords, martial rhythms, and bold expansiveness -- over 42 minutes in duration -- the Symphony No. 2 is most suggestive of Beethoven's "Eroica," which Bomtempo likely emulated. But there is sufficient cleverness, quirkiness, and originality in Bomtempo's efforts to make this work more interesting than these obvious similarities might suggest. The Algarve Orchestra, directed by Álvaro Cassuto, turns in solid performances of both works, and Naxos provides fine sound quality.”
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