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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Overtures: The Marriage of Figaro, K492 (1786) [4:14]; The Magic Flute, K620 (1790) [6:50]; La clemenza di Tito, K621 (1791) [4:30]; The Abduction from the Seraglio, K384 (1782) [5:43]; Don Giovanni, K527 (1787) [6:30]; Idomeneo, K366 (1781) [4:26]; Cosi fan Tutte, K588 (1790) [4:54]; Der Schauspieldirektor, K486 (1786) [3:43]
Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K364 (1779) [30:50]
Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Bruno Giuranna (viola)
Academy of St Martins-in-the-Fields/Neville Marriner
rec. 15-16 June 1981 (Overtures); 17–19 June 1991 (K364), EMI Studio No.1, Abbey Road, London. DDD


Experience Classicsonline

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.

This performance 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.

Bob Briggs



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