Recordings/Press Releases


Prague Sinfonia Orchestra - Christian Benda, conductor
Sony, DDD, 2015 - 104300



Prague Sinfonia Orchestra - Christian Benda, conductor
EAN: 0888751861916

***** (five out of five)

Classical Souce - Antony Hodgson - December 2016

Later generations of the Benda family inherited much musical talent including conductor (and composer) Christian whose performances are given on this recording in convincing style. Benda exploits the horns high in their register. The Prague Sinfonia has a fine horn section and these musicians perform their demanding melodic passages with immaculate accuracy. In the C-major Symphony that ends the programme the conductor’s firmly rhythmic treatment of the Minuet-like Finale gives suitable weight to this work. The Benda Symphonies are superbly played and are given excellent recorded sound within a spacious acoustic.

Gramophone - Balazs Zay - August 26, 2016

Christian Benda conducts cleverly, lively, colorfully. These are no doubt very good pieces. A valuable niche publication.

Classical Ear - Evan Dickerson - June 7, 2016

Much wit and colourful invention… Each Sinfonia’s performance is keenly accented and serves the music well, with faster movements being the main draw. There is an obvious affection in Christian Benda’s conducting… The recording is bright… favouring the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra’s upper strings… A likeable venture.

Full sunshine (4 out of 4)

Musikzen - L'air du jour - Marc Vignal

Family history - Benda (Georg Anton) vigorous thanks to Benda (Christian)

Maybe this CD (only six symphonies) will be followed by another one. It is to be wished, because the interpretation is of the highest caliber, both vigorous and precise, under the direction of Christian Benda.

klassik erleben - Helmut Peters

Christian Benda - Sinfonias

Listening to Christian Benda's fantastic recording of six symphonies by his ancestor with the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra, one is convinced that the musical language of the Bohemian composer must just be in the conductor's blood.

De Volkskrant - Biella Luttmer - April 20, 2016

Prague Sinfonia Orchestra makes early classical pieces almost swinging

They blow you full in the face the sinfonias of Georg Anton Benda (1722-1795): fresh and spring-like, with strings that cannot wait to play their hectic rhythms.
The young Mozart wrote all this to his father: "I have heard here twice with the greatest pleasure Medea by Benda. Never before was I so taken. (...) You know that among the Lutheran Kapellmeister Benda was always my favorite. I love these works so much that I carry them with me. "
The instrumental pieces by the composer from the region that is now part of the Czech Republic, played by a czech symphony orchestra, led in a strikingly brilliant way by one of Benda's descendants: Christian Benda.
He has a good eye for the different characters in the works and keeps everything rhythmically so well in hand that the early classical pieces are almost swinging.

Pizzicato - Guy Engels - April 26, 2016

Refreshing Benda symphonies

Christian Benda shapes the six short symphonies in an equally refreshing, relish, virtuosic and captivating way. The conductor makes his orchestra shine, gives the musical text charm and provides it with delicate bright tones. The music never stops, pulsates constantly, and thanks to a detailed reading remains always exciting.

Radio-Canada - Frédéric Lambert - April 29, 2016

"It is precise, it is admirable and it is conducted by his direct descendant after three centuries," says Frédéric Lambert about Georg Anton Benda: Sinfonias, an album dedicated to the symphonic works of the Czech composer of the 18th century, who particularly influenced Mozart. It is indeed the violinist Christian Benda, from the same family as the composer, who conducts the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra on this opus. Frédéric Lambert calls this album a brilliant madness and explains to Catherine Perrin why he recommends it to anyone wishing to discover lesser-known composers.

Classique News - Lucas Irom - May 1, 2016

Nice idea of playing his symphonies...

Even on modern instruments, orchestra and conductor know how to emphasize weightlessly the expressive palette of a hypersensitive Benda. The panache, the regular pulse - despite a too distant and echoing sound, the fineness of conducting, the excellent sense of contrasts, the expressive vitality, which obviously refers to Gluck and even seems to anticipate Joseph Haydn, gives here justice to a first symphonic corpus confirming the eloquence and maturity of a composer active in the 1760s and 1770s, pioneer figure of the language of the European Enlightenment.

IBS - Italy

Maestro Christian Benda conducts the music of one of his ancestors with the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra

In this recording he gives us a lively interpretation of some symphonic works by Georg Anton, well known and respected by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Let us hear with satisfaction six rare symphonies in three movements in an excellent rendition also by the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra.


Complete Rossini Overtures / Benda, Prague Sinfonia Orchestra

Rossini's Complete Overtures including Volume 3 & 4.
Blu-ray High Definition Audio Disc.


Rossini: Complete Overtures, Vol. 4


Rossini: Complete Overtures, Vol. 3

Michael Tumelty - Herald Scotland
As it reaches Volume 3, the brilliant Naxos series of complete Rossini Overtures is increasingly acclaimed and seems now unstoppable in its march towards being not only the finest collection of Rossini overtures available, but actually indispensible to those who love this exhilarating music. Purists, intellectual elitists and snobs sometimes deride Rossini as the composer who couldn't write counterpoint (or was too lazy to do so) and who had about two good musical ideas (crescendo and accumulation) out of which he made a career. I find Rossini's Overtures a life force in their vivacity and breathtaking sense of elan, wonderfully captured and projected on this latest volume by Christian Benda and his crisp, articulate Prague Sinfonia Orchestra. More favourites are here, including The Italian Girl In Algiers, Cinderella and Tancredi, with some lesser known items and a fascinating student work, Grand'Overtura, where you can hear the seed elements of Rossini's later music at work. Absolutely sparkling.

Rossini's Complete Overtures including Volume 1 & 2.
Blu-ray High Definition Audio Disc.

Rossini: Complete Overtures, Vol. 2

5.0 out of 5 stars
Matt B
This is the second installment of Rossini Overtures in this Naxos series which claims ultimately to include "tutte le sinfonie di Rossini"... all of Rossini's overtures. This disc includes the composer's most recognized work... the overture to his final opera William Tell as well as some famous, not so famous, and some downright virtually unknown works. In fact the overture to his so-called first opera Demetrio e Polibio may not have been penned by the adolescent Rossini at all. The opera was commissioned piecemeal... aria by aria... by the Mombelli family for their personal use and the talented young boy did not even realize that he was composing an opera! This occurred circa 1808, but the shrewd Mombellis waited until 1812 to perform the piece... that is after the young composer had made a name for himself. At any rate, the overture does not sound very Rossinian to these ears and as such it may have been penned by papa Mombelli. As further evidence the disc also contains the almost contemporaneous Sinfonia di Bologna which, while not intended as an operatic overture and as such not representative of his later works, it is indeed a harbinger to the classicism and charm that were to become the hallmarks of the Rossini's more mature style. In any event, the disc does give us the opportunity to hear the overtures to the composer's first and last operas. If Rossini did indeed pen the Demetrio Overture he certainly grew as a composer in the intervening twenty plus years or so... actually the same is true when comparing the Sinfonia di Bologna to the William Tell Overture as well! At any rate, all the fine attributes that I mentioned in my review of the first installment of this series apply to this CD as well. As such I heartily recommend this disc and look forward to obtaining the two remaining discs that are promised. Incidentally, the overture to Sigismondo which closes the program is not included on any other compilation of which I am aware, and that includes Neville Marriner's complete set on Philips. As I said in my review of volume one... based on the use of more up to date scores and the vitality of the performances compared to the rather coolness of Marriner, this series may be the best way to experience all of these often underrated miniature symphonic gems.

Think you know all of Rossini's overtures? The Prague Sinfonia Orchestra just released Volume 2 in their four-CD series of Rossini's Complete Overtures. Known or unknown, each track on this album typifies Rossini's wit and charm and the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra delivers compelling performances of each.

David Hurwitz – Classics Today UK
Rossini Overtures Volume 2 Maintains High Standards
This disc is an unalloyed winner, featuring a selection of familiar and unfamiliar pieces from the very early (Sinfonia di Bologna) to the very late (William Tell). The two popular overtures, La scala di seta and Il Signor Bruschino, the latter with its tapping violin bows, are especially delightful here at Christian Benda's quick tempos. The woodwind players, so critical to these pieces, are particularly fine-not a surprise from a Czech ensemble. The oboe soloist at the start of La scala di seta is amazing, and the strings have the necessary ensemble precision and rhythmic bounce to make the performances completely convincing. Fine sound too. Strongly recommended.

David Denton - David's Review Corner
Let me give a massive welcome to these highly enjoyable and superbly played performances from Christian Benda and a fine Prague orchestra. There is a breath of fresh air blowing through the familiar sounds of the overture to William Tell, and when we continue through the disc, we find an orchestra that can play with complete accuracy the overture to La scala di seta at Benda's very mercurial tempo. The Prague Sinfonia produces the light and airy quality on which such music thrives, the quality and intonation of the violins of particular merit. The recorded sound is outstanding.

Colin Anderson - International Record Review
The Silken Ladder opens with a feisty turn from the violins before some eloquent and fancy woodwinds beguile the ears, and the bouncy allegro steals infectiously. Il Signor Bruschino is equally affectionate and high-spirited as a performance, with tempos, articulations-and those trademark crescendos-well judged. Sigismondo opens expansively and includes an extended and florid oboe solo, very nicely played, while all the time there is an increasing portent in the lower reaches of the orchestra, which is disarmed by a nimble and witty section that is riposted in light-hearted fashion, and with a crescendo. These are excellent performances that have been well recorded.

Michael Tumelty - HeraldScotland
Late last November I raved about Volume One of a new Naxos project to record all of Rossini's overtures in a four-volume set. The standard of Prague playing with conductor Christian Benda was extremely high, while interpretations and performances captured the exhilaration and spirit of this fabulously ebullient music. Volume Two maintains all of this in a superb selection of the most and least familiar pieces from Rossini's thrilling output. This set is launched with William Tell, surely the best known and loved of all concert overtures. It's from the composer's last opera, and is completely refreshed in this crisp, well-played version. Also featured in this terrific set are the overtures from Eduardo e Cristina, L'Inganno Felice, The Silken Ladder, Signor Bruschino, Sigismondo and the little five- minute Sinfonia di Bologna. Effervescent stuff, irresistibly foot-tapping and extremely tightly played.

Rossini: Complete Overtures, Vol. 1

Jerry Dubins - Fanfare
Benda and the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra's performances are an absolute delight, featuring playing that's bright as a button and droll as those Rossini caricatures one commonly sees plastered on program posters and album covers. This first volume affords both a strong start and a strong promise for the most comprehensive and important survey of Rossini's overtures since Marriner's 1970s effort.That's a definite recommendation

Steve Moffatt
These little gems are played lovingly by the Prague Sinfonia under Christian Benda. These are all given vivid treatment by this excellent ensemble led by their Czech chief conductor Benda.

American Record Guide
I'm looking forward to a winner-take-all showdown with Marriner once we get to the real rarities like Ricciardo e Zoraide, Bianca e Faliero, and Demetrio e Polibio. Certainly if all you know is the handful of Rossini overtures recorded by Reiner or Toscanini, you have much to look forward to. Given three more installments as good as this one, this could be a significant addition to the catalog.

Christian Benda brings out a lively freshness from the musicians in these performances.

John Sheppard - MusicWeb International,
The Prague Sinfonia Orchestra and Christian Benda have already recorded the complete Overtures of Schubert for Naxos on two well filled and utterly delightful discs. It was an obvious step to move next to the complete Overtures of Rossini which so obviously inspired Schubert. I am happy to say that this disc has many of the same very successful features of its predecessors.
There is much more competition this time, including several previous complete sets of the Overtures and many very distinguished selections of those that are most popular. From Toscanini to Giulini or Gui, and from Marriner to Norrington there is a very wide range of recorded performances available and it is best simply to enjoy what each approach has to offer rather than solemnly to attempt any overall order of merit. The good news in any event is that Benda stands up well in this very distinguished company. There is real theatrical vitality in each of these performances, as well as grace and wit in phrasing. All of these are played with real spirit and style and recorded clearly and cleanly. This is an admirable start to what looks like being a very desirable series.
The Prague Sinfonia Orchestra plays these works with as much seriousness of purpose and intensity as they deserve, and lightens up considerably. Well played and well sung, the music on this CD bodes well for the other three in the series.

Michael Tumelty - Herald Scotland
Any self-respecting music-lover will have at least two or three of Rossini's Overtures in their collections. This is effervescent music that, in the right hands, retains its full sparkle and splendour. And here is a cracking, taut and exhilarating new set from the terrifically lean and energetic Prague Sinfonia, directed with full Rossinian dynamism and momentum by Christian Benda.

David Denton - David's Review Corner,
The playing of the Prague Sinfonia, under their chief conductor, Christian Benda, is first rate, the recording revealing a profusion of inner detail.

Le Devoir
The discography of Rossini's overtures, once frequently renewed, is lethargic since two decades. The references, set in chronological order, are Toscanini, Reiner, three CDs by Abbado (DG, DG and RCA, the latter having a poor sound for half of the overtures), and Gelmetti (EMI). Marriner is the only complete release, excellent in fact, of these jewels. On this background, Naxos comes up with a very interesting artistic proposal and the first volume of a complete release rebalancing the winds and with an increased transparency. Benda articulates the music phrased as one rarely finds. A superb and useful CD.

Christophe Huss -
Christian Benda's first CD of the Complete Rossini Overtures has been awarded 10/10
It is interesting to note that the "baroque revolution", which hit Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms or Schumann, and now even Wagner (with Norrington, who dares everything by thinking "the bigger it is, the better it works "), involved much more the symphonies than the concertos (eg the rarely "challenged" violin concertos of Brahms and Beethoven) and seems to have gone completely over the Rossini practice. Not to mention vibrato or baroque habits, it is a real stab to simply perform degreasing the Rossini orchestra size. Imagine the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie cleaning Rossini's overtures with aplomb, and especially reactivity. Nobody really thought of this (except Abbado with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in a rather dull CD). And yet ... Christian Benda and his Prague musicians show that the idea is excellent, and getting rid of the Karajan style "wall of strings", we discover colors and counterpoint in this music full of accents. Without bragging nor brutality, Benda plays this rustic and refreshing game. In an overall just a little tangy sound, in order not to evoke any purring comfort, Benda gives a nice boost to the overtures and their discography. We do not have here a CD featuring a "best of" program since this is volume 1 of a future complete set, but everything (see the transition to the coda in Otello) is approached with the same seriousness in articulation and clarity. At the end of the course, if it continues at this level, Benda will be better and steal a march on his only rival, Neville Marriner on Philips. Thus another success for Naxos.

5 out of 5 stars
Matt B
This is the first installment in what promises to be a complete four-disc traversal of Rossini sinfonie (overtures) and it portends well for the remainder of the series. The other virtually complete traversal is the three-disc Philips set by Neville Marriner and his Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields. Unfortunately that set was begun before the heyday of Rossini scholarship. Consequently, as is often the case with this repertory and especially where major conductors are involved, many of the overtures are presented in corrupt editions that the composer probably would not completely recognize. Still, the playing is alert and polished in the best of Sir Neville's manner, but then again he approaches the pieces much like everything else that he did way back then. So while the performances are pleasing and typically graceful, a certain amount of blandness does creep into his interpretations.
In contrast, Christian Benda and his Prague Sinfonia produce a more dynamic sound... a loftier sound, yet presented in a way that is not disproportionate or excessive. In short, while Rossini's classical roots are respected, we are not sitting in a parlor wearing powdered wigs... but rather in an opera house where we can smell greasepaint and hear the ruffle of latecomers being ushered into their seats. Yet, these often taken-for-granted mini-masterpieces are presented in a stylish manner. Tastefully, compared to the way some conductors rush and gush through these scores as if they had a train to catch. Furthermore, the sound engineers have captured all of this in lifelike sound where the bass drum is able to make quite the uninhibited impact. In addition, the scores utilized are up to date and consistent with current scholarship... even though I do hear the trombones in Semiramide where they are not specified in the score... but that is a naughty if exciting option in which many conductors partake (including some Rossini scholar/conductors)... and in fairness it occurs only in the recapitulation... so it could be considered an embellishment of sorts that would be appropriate for the period. In summary this is a promising first chapter. Plus, at Naxos bargain prices purchasing this is a no-brainer, and when the project is completed it might just prove to be all the Rossini overtures that even the advanced Rossini collector will ever need... but then again one can never have too much Rossini in their collection!


Prague Sinfonia Orchestra records for RCA RED SEAL/Sony Classics

Christian Benda manages to captivate his Prague Sinfonia Orchestra demonstrating its great shape, musicality, precision and the gloss of its various sections.


Complete Schubert Overtures

Music, Right Through the Bone
A great new recording. The overtures are performed with wonderful verve by the Prague Sinfonia, under Christian Benda.

Maximum rate (++++)
The flourishing melodic gifts of Franz Schubert will give a listener tremendous enjoyment – partly because of its novelty but mostly because of its sheer beauty - and all the overtures are played stylishly by the Prague Sinfonia under Christian Benda. Gorgeous melody, cleverly varied instrumentation, and occasional forays into skillful tone-painting - a joy to owners of this recording.

From the very opening measures it’s clear the Prague players relish these sun-lit and tuneful pieces and respond with great enthusiasm and affection to the taut leadership of their chief conductor and artistic director, Christian Benda. Tempos seemed spot-on—never rushed or too aggressive…
American Record Guide

Christian Benda and the members of the Prague Sinfonia take an agreeably genial approach to music that presses so many familiar buttons in slightly unfamiliar ways that it’s hard not to be regularly charmed by the endeavour.

Christian Benda digs into these scores with gusto and the Prague Sinfonia rewards the listener with enthusiastic response and great sound.

You put this disc on—and are immediately transported with a sense of sheer delight. What is more, this continues throughout the disc as one engaging work follows another. At the end you pour yourself another cup of Earl Grey and start again. Well, at least that was my experience… Over and over again the listener will find themselves delighted by a turn of phrase, an unexpected harmony or deft orchestration and by the bright but affectionate performances of the Prague Sinfonia and Christian Benda.

The result is a nicely transparent texture with Benda’s vibrant and well-paced performances.

Fine performances, at once unmannered, animated but unhurried, and benefitting from transparent orchestral textures and a sonority that is never too weighty.


Knecht Portrait musical de la Nature
Philidor Overtures

The performances by two orchestras from Prague and Turin respectively sound so well integrated that one cannot tell them apart. Christian Benda keeps his people moving right along, especially in the overtures, where the energy he brings is palpable. On the other side of the coin, the Knecht is done with considerable sensitivity to all of the textured nuances inherent within the music. Each instrument, usually transparently scored, is clear and audible. The tempos here too flexible and bring out the imagery. This is one disc I would recommend without qualms. It presents some lively and rare music that deserves much further publicity.

FANFARE: Bertil van Boer