> Mozart: Lifeand Works [NH]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Life and Works Audio-Original

Jeremy Siepmann, writer/narrator
With Nicholas Boulton as Mozart
Featuring musical excerpts from the Naxos catalogue.
NAXOS 8.558061-64 [4CDs: 65.21+77.15+74.54+75.09]



This 4CD set is one of the initial releases in the Naxos "Life and Works" series (the others are devoted to Bach and Tchaikovsky) and is a formidable undertaking. The general format is of musical excerpts, derived from the Naxos back catalogue (many highly thought of and *** rated in the Penguin Guide, including Barry Wordsworth and Nicholas Ward in the symphonies, Michael Thompson and the now sadly defunct Bournemouth Sinfonietta in the Horn Concertos, and Andras Ligeti in the Piano Concertos), interspersed with generally longer sections of, it has to be said, very well done narrative. My main gripe, and something that devalues this set immensely for the general listener rather than the student, is that despite having up to twenty separate cues per single disc, it is not possible to listen to the music alone, without speech either starting or finishing the piece. Despite being an informative listen as a whole, the scope for repetition is limited for this reason. As the disc is marketed as an educational resource then this is fair enough but this listener, for one, would have found it a far more useful package if the narrative and music were cued totally separately.

So, what do you get for your modest outlay? Four CDs housed in a sturdy double jewel case and a detailed 128 page booklet contained in a card slipcase. The booklet contains substantial sections on the music's Historical Background, Mozart in his Time, the Major Works and their Significance plus a very useful Graded Listening Plan, a reading list and a glossary. Other than the problem discussed above it is difficult to find fault with the initiative, and it even includes some relevant musical items not written by Wolfgang Amadeus, including his father Leopold's Sinfonia di caccia, Allegri's Miserere and a Clementi Piano Sonata. Highly knowledgeable writer and narrator Jeremy Siepmann even gets to tickle the keys on the previously unreleased Minuet in G, K.1! The musical emphasis is placed on the symphonies and concertos (piano, in particular) and there are some notable omissions, e.g. The Magic Flute, presumably for the reason that Naxos has yet to record them.

So, a qualified ‘thumbs up’ to this release and the enterprise it heralds. Wonderful for music students and autodidacts alike, also great educational entertainment on a long journey but I would appeal to Naxos to make any future issues more user friendly in the way I have suggested. A previous Mozart compilation, aimed specifically at children (Listen Learn and Grow), has long been a favourite with various members of this household - there are some great performances in the company's vaults which might have been done greater justice this time around. However, Jeremy Siepmann has done an otherwise superb job at bringing to life one of the greatest stories in musical history.
Neil Horner


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.