1. Potter: Symphony No. 1 / Huangci, Griffiths, BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Potter: Symphony No. 1 & More / Huangci, Griffiths, BBC National Orchestra of Wales

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The highly esteemed Cipriani Potter bequeathed a rich compositional oeuvre to posterity. Born in London in 1792, Potter received his education as a composer from Thomas Altwood, William Crotch, and Joseph Wölfl. He later traveled to Vienna, where he continued his studies with Aloys Förster on Beethoven’s recommendation.

Back in England, he soon became a sought-after composer and pianist. During a commemorative event held by the Musical Association in London, he was praised for his nine symphonies – and in particular for the first, in G minor, which is heard on this new release.

The first movement from the very start attests to Potter’s dramatic instinct; his favorite compositions included works charged with suspense like Mozart’s overture to Don Giovanni. Potter was one of the first renowned composers from England to write symphonies based on his experience of Mozart’s late oeuvre and Beethoven’s orchestral music. The furious “Allegro con spirito” first movement of his G minor symphony is a bold stroke of genius filled with powerful melodic invention in combination with masterful thematic development.

The phenomenal pianist Potter also repeatedly presented cabinet pieces for the piano. He composed the “Introduction” followed by a “Rondo in the Military Style” of 1827 six years before his first piano concerto. Like the “Variazioni di Bravura on a Theme by Rossini” for piano and orchestra also dating from the late 1820s or the “Introduction and Rondo Giocoso” for solo piano, they offer listening pleasure in which Potter’s humorous side, a trait mentioned by many who knew him, is revealed.


Londoner Cipriani Potter is a figure for music histories. He is one of those figures alongside Sterndale Bennett who peopled nineteenth century Britain while it was supposedly a "land without music". His teachers included William Crotch and Joseph Wölfl; the latter of whom is also enjoying reborn attention at the hands of CPO. The First Symphony was written after some years in Vienna continuing his studies with Beethoven's endorsement. Back in London, he attracted praise for his symphonies and the 24-minute First was among these. A four-movement work, it wastes no time in establishing itself with some crushing Beethovenian rhetoric and with buoyant fast passages which balance anxiety with celebration. There's a temperate and freshly imagined Andante, a dignified but not rigorous Minuetto and a flighty finale, lightly orchestrated at first and then heavily accented. The 20-minute Introduzione e Rondo for piano and orchestra is a cheery piece, written in the year of Beethoven's death. Its light-fingered witty display does not subjugate musical freshness. It's the first of eight works by Potter for piano and orchestra of which three from the 1830s are piano concertos.

You might think in terms of Chopin's non-Concerto works for piano and orchestra: Variations on "Là ci darem la mano" (1827) and Krakowiak (1828). The Potter piece is utterly charming and devastatingly fresh. Claire Huangci does not disappoint. There are three Shakespeare-based overtures from Potter's very prolific 1830s: Antony and Cleopatra (1835) and The Tempest overture (1837). The Overture to Cymbeline (CPO favour 'Cymbelene') is heard on this disc. The writing here has a Mendelssohnian accent and when it becomes emphatic has you thinking about Schumann. It's very accomplished and at times there is quite delicate writing (as at 2:57). This does not preclude some volcanic writing familiar from the outer movements of the First Symphony.

These three works have a convincing support act from the liner essay by one of the most knowledgeable of music-writers, Meinhard Saremba. I hope that we will hear more from him. This disc looks like a fierily encouraging start of another series from CPO.

Momentous Beethovenian writing coupled with a well recorded freshness that takes this music beyond the work of a mere shadow.

-- MusicWeb International

Product Description:

  • Release Date: August 06, 2021

  • Catalog Number: 555274-2

  • UPC: 761203527427

  • Label: CPO

  • Period: Romantic

  • Composer: Cipriani Potter

  • Conductor: Howard Griffiths

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: BBC National Orchestra of Wales

  • Performer: Claire Huangci


  1. Symphony No. 1 in G Minor

    Composer: Cipriani Potter

    Ensemble: BBC National Orchestra of Wales

    Conductor: Howard Griffiths

  2. Introduction and Rondo, "Alla militaire"

    Composer: Cipriani Potter

    Ensemble: BBC National Orchestra of Wales

    Conductor: Howard Griffiths

  3. Cymbeline: Overture

    Composer: Cipriani Potter

    Ensemble: BBC National Orchestra of Wales

    Conductor: Howard Griffiths