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             



  AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Sir Roger Norrington in Rehearsal
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphony No.39 in E flat K543 (1788)

Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart/Sir Roger Norrington
Recorded at the Schwetzingen Festspiele, 1996
PCM Stereo: NTSC: Aspect Ratio 4:3
Language: mainly English but see review:
Menu Languages: D, F, GB, SP:
Subtitle Languages: D, F, SP:
Released 2005
ARTHAUS MUSIC 101 070 [60:00]:


Since DVDs are never technically consistent let me first dispose of those issues. The stereo sound, that is the only choice, is perfectly listenable; the 4/3 picture is perfectly watchable and the camera work unfussy. There is no option for English subtitles on this disc and all visual titles are in German. Since Norrington rehearses in English – a tribute to the German orchestra’s multi-lingualism – this is not a problem. It is typical of German television (SDR here) that the performers are allowed to speak for themselves. There is no narrative, in fact no extraneous commentary at all. One wishes the BBC Proms coverage was similarly dedicated to music and music-making instead of to the posturings of the pseudo-popularisers. There is talk (and oddly no applause) at the end of the performance – just credits. Which is also very refreshing after yet another season of BBC babble. On the down-side there are no extras – just the rehearsal and the performance. The notes by Tillmann Klein set out an interesting and convincing theory that the final three symphonies intentionally emulate the six Paris symphonies of Haydn. He suggests that Mozart was planning to publish them as a set in an attempt to raise his public reputation and thus help him to get a salary rise as court composer. Klein makes it clear that there is no explicit evidence for his suggestion but it is a nice thesis.

Norrington is here trying to turn his orchestra into a period band thus a lot of rehearsal time, in a very democratic atmosphere, is dedicated to dynamic moulding of Mozart’s symphony. It is interesting even to a non-player like myself, how his detailed rehearsing changes the sound. The players of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra have worked with Norrington for many years and even by the time of this nine year old film had become adept at playing without vibrato. I enjoyed the way in the third movement that he enlivened the whole sound by much encouragement of the clarinets and of the second violins. Norrington’s encouragement often takes the form of singing along. Similarly in the fourth movement he characterises the stresses on the appoggiaturas as "carrot-juice", "carrot-juice" and then holds up his half drunk bottle of carrot juice to emphasise the point.

During the performance one can see that a lot of the conducting gestures are directed at reminding the orchestra of points made during rehearsals where all the real work was done. One can see knowing smiles among the musicians as they remember the points made. In an informative contrast the orchestra watches the score during the performance but Norrington during the rehearsal. There is not much sign of an audience in this small auditorium though they are there. As a result the camera roams freely around the orchestra during the performance whereas it had focused largely on Norrington during the rehearsal.

Purchasers interested primarily in the performance of the E flat symphony can be reassured that since Norrington has a clear idea of the ebb and flow of the work and the orchestra is very responsive, no viewer is liable to get bored. It is all very enjoyable.

David Billinge



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

August 2022

Louis Caix d'Hervelois

orchestral songs



String Quartets

la folia



July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I



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.