Mozart - The Last Symphonies
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Cat No: LPH011
Number of Discs: 2
Release Date: 24th June 2013
WorksSymphony no.39 in E flat major, K543
Symphony no.40 in G minor, K550
Symphony no.41 in C major, K551 'Jupiter'
ArtistsOrchestre des Champs-Elysees
Written one after the other in the space of just three months and with unprecedented energy, Mozart’s last three symphonies carry within them the aesthetic ideal of their composer, touched by a grace that is already pre-Romantic, and thus form an exemplary musical testament.
The Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, a pioneering collective among period-instrument orchestras, reveals a richness, a modernity, a visionary complexity that prepares the way for the Beethovenian revolution.
The approach of the orchestra founded and conducted by Philippe Herreweghe is to explore in depth the sonority and the motor rhythms of the symphonic writing of a Mozart here at the height of his powers.
To record this Mozart trilogy is a bold undertaking for any musician, and always an extraordinary event for the public!
1Symphony no.39, K543 - I.Adagio - Allegro
2Symphony no.39, K453 - II.Andante con moto
3Symphony no.39, K453 - III.Menuetto: Allegretto
4Symphony no.39, K453 - IV.Finale: Allegro
5Symphony no.40, K550 - I.Molto Allegro
6Symphony no.40, K550 - II.Andante
7Symphony no.40, K550 - III.Menuetto: Allegretto
8Symphony no.40, K550 - IV.Allegro assai
9Symphony no.41, K551 - I.Allegro Vivace
10Symphony no.41, K551 - II.Andante cantabile
11Symphony no.41, K551 - III.Menuetto: Allegretto
12Symphony no.41, K551 - IV. Molto allegro
In the E flat Symphony, No.39, Herreweghe taps into a lively, sparkling dynamism that is seldom heard in other performances. There is a keen sense of forward momentum in the opening slow introduction, while in the Allegro itself – taken a shade faster than usual – there are all sorts of felicitous touches, including a beautifully shaded pizzicato bass line in the second subject. There is a similar dynamism to the Andante slow movement, which flows along at a beautifully-judged tempo. The Minuet is a punchy affair, with phrases nicely shaped and the distinctive wind writing much in evidence, and some tasteful clarinet ornamentation in the Ländler-like trio. In the Finale, Herreweghe keeps a tight rein on the tempo, which makes a refreshing change from the usual headlong rush.
In opening movement of the great G minor Symphony, the weighting of accents is again judged to perfection, with nicely a flowing tempo. The Andante starts in an almost matter-of-fact manner, making the ensuing musical developments seem all the more miraculous; and the full-orchestra sonorities in the tutti passages are marvellously imposing. The Minuet is subtly spiky, once again at a good, lively tempo, with a conversational feel to the trio and the woodwind and horns in particularly fine form. The concluding Allegro assai is suitably urgent, relishing the sound of the old instruments and emphasising the music’s boldness without overplaying its anxieties (the ‘twelve-tone’ passage in the development is particularly alert).
The second disc is devoted to what may well be the finest early-instrument recording of the ‘Jupiter’ there has yet been. The opening has a particularly martial feel to it, brisk and clipped, and the first movement as a whole certainly has that lively feeling specified by Mozart in his tempo indication. In the Andante, Herreweghe is particularly successful at teasing out the Sturm und Drang elements without overdoing things, so that the overall cantabile atmosphere is only lightly disturbed. The Minuet is gloriously ebullient yet poised, the horns, trumpets and drums imparting a notably courtly flavour, while in the Trio the delightfully soft-toned flute of the first section perfectly complements the finely-etched turbulence of the second. As for the great finale, it is brim-full of life, ideally paced, and with a huge sense of cumulative energy, culminating in the contrapuntal episode of exceptional clarity and transparency.
Herreweghe observes the full complement of repeats throughout these works, which are beautifully recorded, clear but with finely-graded ambience. With attractive presentation and detailed notes by Mozart authority Neal Zaslaw placing these mighty symphonies in context, this two disc set is worth every penny!
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