Eight operatic overtures may seem a bit much in one sitting and
Marriner’s straightforward style doesn’t always suit the music.
The Figaro Overture starts the collection well and races
along with its marvellous chatter. The Magic Flute Overture,
however, is too light in the slow music for its full effect to
be made. Once the allegro starts Marriner is totally at home.
The Seraglio Overture is very alive with buoyant, if a
little backwardly placed, percussion. I really enjoyed Marriner’s
handling of the light and shade of this work. Don Giovanni
gets a good workout but there isn’t sufficient weight in the dramatic
music, whereas Der Schauspieldirektor is a bit heavy-handed.
These are undemanding
performances which give an idea of the music but without any
special insights. They are well enough executed but, as can
be the problem when a group of pieces is given by the same forces,
they do become somewhat faceless performances.
However, with Mutter
and Giuranna as soloists I had high hopes for the superb Sinfonia
Concertante. They play most eloquently: listen to their
first entry – absolutely superb, so subtle and with a feeling
of the magical. The slow movement is quite beautiful in its
simplicity, the players going for an understated approach which
admirably suits the music. The finale dances along – full of
jokes and jests – and I feel the performers to be having a really
good time – obviously enjoying themselves.
is lighter than many I have heard. It has neither the depth
nor the insight of either the great recording by Albert Sammons
and Lionel Tertis with Hamilton Harty and the Hallé or the live recording by Norbert Brainin and Peter
Schidlof with the English Chamber Orchestra under Benjamin Britten.
There is however a logical sensibility about this performance
which is very enjoyable.
Perhaps the performers
don’t plumb the emotional depths of the music but what they
give is a view of a less troubled Mozart, a Mozart who, perhaps,
wasn’t worrying about money or the state of his career. This
is a very classical performance. There’s no overt show of emotion
here. There isn’t the gravitas which one finds in the performances
mentioned above, but it’s a very fine and most enjoyable account
of a great masterpiece.
Whilst it wouldn’t
be my first choice of a recording of the Sinfonia Concertante,
it certainly won’t disappoint you, and, for the very modest
price asked, it does constitute a real bargain. The sound is
excellent and the presentation very good.