This disc represents
one of the bright occurrences in today’s
record industry: re-packaging of fairly
new recordings in revised couplings,
usually enhancing the content and being
released at a lower price.
On this trio of Mozart
Symphonies, K543 and K.551 used to share
a full priced disc with no extra items.
K.550 shared a full-priced disc with
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, again at
full price. RCA have now decided to
release all three on a single disc at
mid-price. In this format, the disc
makes for exceptional value for money.
My only concern about this policy (operated
by nearly all of the record companies)
is that when there is an absolute goldmine
of completely un-issued material in
their respective vaults, why persist
in re-cycling material that many collectors
will already have in their previous
Having said that, if
you are one of the many collectors who
abhor the period performance Mafia,
this release, I am sure will be absolute
heaven. Tempi are not slow, but neither
are they tearaway. The playing of Wand’s
own orchestra is so good that it is
almost indistinguishable from the Berlin
Philharmonic, the orchestra he had also
done work with towards the end of his
To anyone who attended
the miraculous Promenade concert given
by these forces in 2001 performing Schubert
8 and Bruckner 9, the standard of performance
will be immediately apparent. This was
Wand’s last appearance at the Proms
and was very memorable.
The blending of the
various sections of the orchestra is
beyond criticism and the commitment
of the players to their conductor is
clearly audible. There is also a delicacy
in the playing which I find very enticing
(try the 3rd and 4th
movements of K.550, for example). The
RCA engineers have captured these performances
on the wing. Although they share similar
recording dates, the earlier issue of
K.550 was described as "live"
but the present re-coupling does not
say whether these are live performances.
As most of Wand’s recorded work at this
time was from live events, I think it
is safe to assume that these are likewise.
However there is absolutely no aural
evidence of this.
Wand has been very
well received in Bruckner and Schubert
with complete recorded cycles of these
two composers’ symphonies. We know that
he did not record a Mozart cycle, which
is perhaps a shame, but this disc of
the late and greatest of them. It well
merits occupying a similar place in
our affections as the earlier complete
cycles. I don’t know of a disc with
these works that I would want in preference
The only collectors
likely to frown on these performances
are those who espouse period styles
of playing. I happen to belong to that
group of totally misguided people who
hold the belief that if the early composers
had had the availability of our modern
instrument orchestras and also of the
size we are now used to, they would
have been perfectly happy to hear their
works played like this.
Maybe I am misguided,
but luckily I know that many share my
views, and with this disc they will,
I am sure, be wonderfully satisfied.
Very highly recommended for performances,
recording and price.