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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphonies - complete

Symphony No.1 in E Major K.16 (1765)
Symphony in F Major K. 19a (1765)
Symphony No. 4 in D Major K19 (1765)
Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major, K22 (1765)
Symphony G Major K.45a "Old Lambach"(1768)
Symphony in B Flat major K.45b (1768)
Symphony No. 6 in F Major K 43 (1767)
Symphony No. 7 in D Major K.45 (1768)
Symphony No. 8 in D Major K.48 (1768)
Symphony No. 9 in C major K.73 (1770)
Symphony in F major K.75 (1770)
Symphony in F major K.76 (1770)
Symphony in D major K.81 (1770)
Symphony No. 10 in G major K.74 (1770)
Symphony No. 11 in D Major, K84 (1770)
Symphony in D major K.95 (1770)
Symphony in C major K.96 (1771)
Symphony in D major K.97 (1779)
Symphony No. 12 in G Major K.110 (1771)
Symphony No. 13 in F Major K.112 (1771)
Symphony No. 14 in A major K.114 (1771)
Symphony No. 15 in G major K.124 (1772)
Symphony No. 16 in C major K.128 (1772)
Symphony No. 17 in G major K.129 (1772)
Symphony No. 18 in F Major K.130 (1772)
Symphony No. 19 in E flat Major (1772)
Symphony No. 20 in D Major K.113 (1772)
Symphony No. 21 in A Major K.134 (1772)
Symphony No. 22 in C Major K.162 (1773)
Symphony No. 23 in D Major K.181 (1773)
Symphony No. 24 in B flat Major K182 (1773)
Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K183 (1773)
Symphony No. 26 in E Flat Major K.184 (1773)
Symphony No. 27 in G Major K.199 (1773)
Symphony No. 28 in C Major, K200 (1774)
Symphony No. 29 in A Major K.201 (1774)
Symphony No. 30 in D Major K 202 (1775)
Symphony in B Flat Major K.216 (1776)
Symphony No. 31 in D Major K.297 "Paris" (1778)
Symphony No. 32 in G major K.318 (1779)
Symphony No. 33 in B flat Major, K319 (1779)
Symphony No. 34 in C major K.338 (1780)
Symphony No. 35 in D Major K.385 "Haffner" (1782)
Symphony No. 36 in C Major K.425 "Linz" (1783)
Symphony No. 38 in D Major K.504 "Prague" !1786)
Symphony No. 39 in E Flat Major K.543 (1788)
Symphony No. 40 in G Minor K.550 (1788)
Symphony No. 41 in C Major K.551 "Jupiter"(1788)
The English Consort
Directed from the harpsichord by Trevor Pinnock
All recorded at the Henry Wood Hall from June 1992 – January 1995. DDD
DG ARCHIV 471 666-2 [11CDs: 916 minutes]


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Forty-Eight Symphonies by Mozart in a budget box played by a premier period group orchestra, conducted by a well known and well respected conductor, adherent to period performance practices at a low price. This is one of the boxes in DG’s Collectors’ Edition - an Edition that is building up into a very desirable series. This set is no exception, and I can imagine impecunious collectors wanting a comprehensive collection of Mozart Symphonies being overjoyed by this set.

The recordings are all recent, well up to DG’s best standard and with playing which is both accurate, extremely lively where needed, and very satisfying.

In all of the works, Trevor Pinnock directs and plays a mean harpsichord in very sensitive and discreet continuo passages. The comprehensive notes give the personnel used in these recordings for each symphony together with detailed notes on each work. There are also three separate essays by Tim Carter on The Early Symphonies, The Salzburg Symphonies, and the Late Symphonies.

I haven’t checked, but these notes were probably reproduced from their original appearance in the three separate full price issues of these symphonies released earlier on the Archiv label. They give full details of each work, with background information where relevant. These substantially enhance the appeal of the box. The discs come packaged in stout cardboard sleeves held in a slim-line case. This saves considerably on shelf space and is a most practical way of supplying a large collection of discs.

Many of the early symphonies are of relatively little worth, although all show the craftsmanship of the young composer. Some of these prentice works don’t even carry a Symphony number, although all have a K. Number. Scoring is very light, usually 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings and harpsichord obbligato. As the symphonies proceed, flutes begin to become part of the orchestral sound stage. By the time we reach No. 7 in D Major, K.45, Mozart has added trumpets and strings, and the obbligato has been swelled to include a bassoon. No. 9 in C sees the addition of two flutes and by now we are hearing the usual sound picture of Mozart’s symphonic world. In the early symphonies, Mozart used the Italian School for inspiration, many of these essays being derivative, in the style of Giovanni Battista Sammartini or Luigi Boccherini, both of whom composed many such symphonies to this general model. The Italian works however were often written for strings alone with continuo accompaniment, whereas from the beginning, Mozart reinforced the sound picture with first woodwind and then brass and timpani.

Symphony No.1, is traditionally considered to be the one in E Flat major K. 16. It was written by the composer when he was staying in London at the age of 8 years old. His father was on his sickbed with a serious throat ailment and due to his condition he forbade any piano playing in the family’s rooms. Mozart, to fend off the boredom, sat down and wrote this symphony: 2 oboes, 2 horns and strings with bassoon and harpsichord continuo. His cavalier attitude which was well portrayed in the film "Amadeus" has him saying to his sister whilst he composed "don’t forget to remind me to give the horn something worthwhile to do!"

The early symphonies are all of interest, but of much less worth than the later works. Some of the early symphonies have doubtful provenance – e.g. No. 2, K.17 is probably by his father, Leopold, and No. 3 K. 18 is by Carl Friedrich Abel (his Op. 7. No. 6) who was J. C. Bach’s concert-giving colleague in London.

Missing from this set is the Symphony in A minor K. 16a (known as the "Odense"), which caused a bit of a stir a few years ago, but is now also thought to be by someone else, prime candidates being from the Mannheim School.

No. 12 in G K. 110, sees the addition of 2 bassoons, and now we are complete apart from the addition of clarinets in Nos. 39 and 40. Most symphonies beyond No. 1 are for the full Mozartian Orchestra.

The more mature symphonies are superbly played and recorded, as good as any in the catalogue and I cannot imagine anyone not being overjoyed with these performances played as well as they are here.

Repeats are used in most movements with, for example, Symphony No 40 taking 33 minutes even with fairly brisk tempi throughout. I remember my first recording of the Jupiter (Anthony Collins and the Sinfonia of London) now released on Royal Classics. That took 22 ½ minutes!

The other famous symphonies (The Salzburg Symphonies) were a favoured kind of work for the young composer. There were bands of musicians keen to play such works. This gave him the opportunity to consolidate and experiment with form and with different key structures. The symphony was therefore a vehicle for the young composer to display his growing skill. This musical form had not yet become the prime type of composition - it was still in nascent form. Thus Mozart could experiment and make significant contributions. One such is the Symphony No 29 in A Major, K. 201. This is Mozart’s first symphony, which could carry the description "Masterpiece," to stand beside others of the type such as Nos. 35, 39 – 41.

Pinnock has the measure of these works and rarely puts a foot wrong throughout. The orchestra follows him, wherever he wants to go, and although I miss the sense of tremendous excitement of discovery which you find with Sir Charles Mackerras with these works, Trevor Pinnock is a sure guide.

There are competing sets available but none as convenient as the current issue. One significant issue is the double boxed set by Jaap ter Linden with the Akademie Amsterdam on Brilliant Classics, reviewed recently. This set consists of two boxes, each containing single jewel cases of 5 and 6 discs, available separately. It is cheaper than the current set, and the interpretations are just as good. The recording quality does not have the immediate bright sound of the Archiv so you pays your money and you takes your choice, so to speak.

The current Archiv issue is extremely good value for money, and I can’t see any purchaser being disappointed by the contents.

John Phillips



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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