Although there were few great composers in France at the end of the 18th century, it would nevertheless be unjust not to mention Gossec and Méhul as two of the most important of the era. The influence of the new type of instrumental music Mannheim School was noticeable in France after 1770 with the spread of the concertante symphony, which enjoyed much success until around 1830. During these some sixty years various concertante instruments were used, with the combination of flute, oboe, horn and bassoon being among the most popular. Mozart was a pioneer of this combination with his concertante symphony KV 297, which was composed in 1778 for his friends Wendling, Ramm, Punto, and Ritter.
This 2nd concertante symphony in F major is also for flute, oboe, horn, bassoon and orchestra. It is in three movements: Allegro, Adagio, Menuet and Variations.
The Allegro begins with an elaborate orchestra introduction in which the soloists are heard, thus enriching the orchestral color. The soloists then announce in imitation an interrogative phrase of long tones. It is really from this point on that the horn, oboe, bassoon, and flute display their virtuosity. During the development, a dialogue among the instruments takes place, using very interesting modulations in G minor and C minor. After the recapitulation, the four soloists join together in a cadenza written most likely by Devienne himself. The orchestra concludes with very rhythmic and brilliant motifs. The Adagio cannot be considered a truly slow movement in itself because it is so short. These 15 bars are in F minor, very dramatically rendered by the composer. A cadenza by the solo oboe introduces the last movement, a Menuet with variations.
A beautiful theme is stated by the solo oboe and strings. A refrain follows and is repeated with each variation. The instruments display their virtuosity in successive variations: flute, bassoon, horn, and oboe. The fifth and last variation joins all soloists and orchestra for a joyous grand finale.