Charles Gounod (1818-1893)

Petite Symphonie

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Having made up his mind as a young teenager to become a composer, Frenchman Charles Gounod enjoyed early and lasting success in his chosen career. At the age of only 21 he won the prestigious Prix de Rome and later, after realising that it was music for theatre where his greatest opportunities would lie, he cemented his reputation as one of France’s leading composers with the Opera Faust. Yet although Gounod is now primarily remembered for his operatic creations, his few chamber works – written with poise and precision – have also brought much enjoyment to performers and listeners alike. 

The Petite Symphonie is one of Gounod’s two symphonies, and was written in response to a request from his then colleague at the Paris Conservatoire, the flutist Paul Taffanel. Like much of the work, the opening movement emulates its classical forebears, but its structured elegance is embellished with occasional flashes of surprising harmonic invention. In the second movement the flute sings long melodic lines over accompanying winds, while a hunting theme features in the spritely Scherzo. All the instruments share in the festivities in the buoyant final movement.


Alex Fontaine (oboe), Matthew Bubb (oboe), David Rowden (clarinet), John Lewis (clarinet), Michael Dixon (horn), Phil Wilson (horn), Ben Hoadley (bassoon) and Simone Walters (bassoon)

Video Credits

Audio recording by ABC Classic FM
Omega Ensemble gratefully acknowledges their support
Matthew Dewey - Music Director
Andrew Edgson - Sound Engineer
Bruce Terry - Videographer