Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K.525
Serenade in D, K.320 - "Posthorn"
Serenade in D, K.239 - "Serenata Notturna"
Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Sir
Adrian Boult (1)
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra/Victor Desarzens
MCA MCD 80105
The chief interest here is the Boult Nachtmusik, but first a word
about the rest.
Desarzens formed the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in 1940. This ensemble has
made some distinguished recordings more recently so one is naturally curious
to hear it under its founder-conductor, in an undated but good stereo recording.
The Posthorn gets off to a mushy start but elsewhere there is considerable
vitality, with clean passage-work from the upper strings (the cellos and
basses sometimes drag behind) and some excellent soloists. The flutes are
so sweet as to suggest wooden instruments and the oboe is a distinct improvement
on the paint-stripper of Ansermet's contemporaneous Suisse Romande. However,
Desarzens lacks real authority; solo sections drift into tempi of their own
and dance movements sag. It is decent enough but there is no phrase, let
alone whole movement, which invites one to return.
Boult was not especially noted for his Mozart though late in life he replied
to his many fans in a letter to "Gramophone" that "yes, of course I should
like to record the last six Mozart symphonies but the recording companies
do not seem to think I am that kind of person". After this EMI relented and
he recorded nos.35 and 41. Back in 1959 there had been a no.40, coupled with
the present Nachtmusik, originally on Westminster, and a few years
ago Intaglio gave brief, unofficial life to the Boston Symphony Orchestra
concert of 1966 in which he conducted nos. 34 and 39. There were notable
concerto collaborations over the years including the Schnabels, Aubrey Brain,
Annie Fischer and André Previn, so we can gain at least some idea
of how he saw this composer.
Bernard Shore, in his famous book The Orchestra Speaks, stated that
Boult "represents Idealism", and he approaches the score as if unaware
of how it is "usually done". Thus the Romanze goes two-in-a-bar not the usual
four, and at first seems unlovingly swift. Yet its harmonic processes are
so subtly explored as to uncover a wealth of uneasy feeling (the rustling
C minor section is almost Sibelian). The finale, on the other hand, unfolds
at an unhurried four-in-a-bar, but with such poise that it never
It would surprise Shore that at this point in time Boult's structural concerns
seem wholly romantic in the sense that they impose an extra-musical programme
on the music. With a prelude-like first movement, a troubled Romanze, a
protesting Minuet which finds serenity in its Trio and leads to a carefree
finale, there seems to be a hidden agenda. And if this sounds un-Mozartian,
it has to be added that the performance, while strongly phrased, lacks that
kind of nervous analysis of the single thematic cells with which conductors
specialised in Mozart generally imbue the music. Perhaps Boult really was
"not that kind of person" but he tells us things about the music we never
knew, and effortlessly obtains from the Vienna players a very un-Viennese
performance of "their" music. Hear how every harmonic shift in the brief
development section of the first movement speaks, while under Desarzens such
things merely slip by. This is real conducting. Unfortunately, with nearly
forty minutes of Desarzens, the lesson works out rather expensive. The
Serenata Notturna would have been enough, and would have left space
for a transfer of Boult's 40th.