Presto Classical, a website hosting Orchestral Music products and events based in the United Kingdom, has for a number of years now, perhaps 8-9, helped me to discover many new Classical composers I had not heard of before by offering samples from CDs to listen to and providing downloads from mp3@320kbps to Hi-Res CD Quality 24K Flac files for purchasing at very reasonable prices. On top of that, record labels frequently offer discount offers of 20-30% off advertised prices for a limited time. Presto Classical has been my absolute go-to for CDs and downloads since Amazon became an extremely overpriced market place with postage often doubling the cost of a CD alone. Postage to New Zealand is a nightmare of expensive costs, and with Bandcamp and Presto Classical giving the purchaser some control over what they buy and the quality of downloads (Bandcamp can offer mp3, flac, and wav. files, depending, I guess, on the artist's own preferences), these are currently the only two online services I can recommend and continue to purchase from. As far as I know, Amazon, Gooogle, iTunes, and other streaming services etc., do not provide anywhere near the same customer orientated quality.
Check out the full range of the Presto website: www.prestomusic.com/
Krommer is one such a composer who I discovered through the Presto Classical website. Born half a year after George Frideric Handel before the Baroque Period of music began waning and the new form of Classical music brought on by J.S. Bach's sons sought clearer musical textures with less "business", Krommer also died 4 years after Beethoven when the period of Romantic Music had caught the wind of change and was about to become a full blown course of musical exploration. Thus Krommer lived through the entire Classical Period in which he is associated with. Quite a feat when one considers that few people lived past 50 or 60 in those days: Bach and Handel both survived into their 70s as well, but Mozart passed at the early age of 35, Beethoven at 56, Schubert 31, Chopin 39, and many commoners did not have clean and healthy living environments that the wealthy could maintain to ward off disease.
Krommer has never been a composer as highly regarded as the previously mentioned, nor has he even been a composer worthy of noting by any publications - hence my never having heard of him before. But with J.S. Bach's sons leading the charge of the Classical Period, Haydn creating compositional masterclasses on how to compose in this new gallant style, Mozart capping it all off with his genius of prolific tune-making, orchestral colouring, and absolute mastery of every genre, and Beethoven pushing the Classical Period to breaking point and ushering in the heroic nature of the forthcoming Romantic Period, to be honest, any other composer of this period was hardly ever going to get a look-in. But while Krommer and his contemporaries, such as Franz Ignaz Beck, and Johann Baptist Vanhal, all live in the shadows of critical opinion, that does not mean they don't deserve to be listened to. Vanhal in particularly has many a tuneful sinfonia worth putting on your playlists.
What struck me about Krommer on first listening to his symphonies was how dramatic they were, how they seemed to evoke the same spirit of Beethoven without the suffering or heroism. On further listening I thought I even heard very similar Beethoven-type phrasing and I began wondering if this might have been a composer who Beethoven borrowed from. This remark seems sacrilegious, but it is well known that Beethoven took ideas from Mozart and reworked them considerably enough that they became completely his own:
Not only the 'Ode to Joy' tune can be found in a Mozart Sacred Work,
There is so much music out there going unheard, not just in the realm of orchestral music, but also in all forms of contemporary music, but if you find yourself becoming a little bit bored hearing the same Mozart and Beethoven works again and again, I can highly recommend Franz Krommer as an alternative: Not as charmingly tuneful as Mozart, and not as heroic or excessively weighty as Beethoven, the symphonies still manage to convey intensely dramatic episodes while also being tunefully appealing. I also listened to samples from his Oboe Concertos, and these few snippets were absolutely wonderful and went straight onto my wishlist for future purchasing.
Check out some samples on Presto Classical
Symphonies: Krommer - Symphony Nos 4, 5, & 7
Oboe Concertos: Mozart & Krommer - Oboe Concertos
Some updates to keep me updated.