Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
The Complete Youth Symphonies
see end of review for work listing
Academy of St Martins in the Field/Neville Marriner
rec. Town Hall, Brent, London, September 1973; *October-December 1972. ADD
PENTATONE PTC 5186 462 SACD [4 SACDs: 59:07 + 62:41 + 59:13 + 59:55]
These Seventies-vintage recordings were originally intended for release on 'quadraphonic' Philips LPs, the project apparently shelved. Dutch label PentaTone reprocessed them as Super-Audio and released four separate volumes a few years ago, now repackaged for this convenient and reasonably-priced boxed set.
The title 'Complete Youth Symphonies' is an oddly misleading boast. The canonic Symphony no.1 (K.16), dating back to 1764, is absent, as are those traditionally numbered 4, 5, 10, 13-17, 20 and 21 - all from 1772 or earlier. At least four of those that are included may be spurious - the 'Neue Lambacher' Symphony in G is almost certainly the work of Mozart's father Leopold, acknowledged as much in the notes, and listed above as such. A few others that may or may not be by young Mozart do not appear.
The question, how many Symphonies die Mozart write?, is difficult to answer precisely because of the confusion over these early works. There are certainly more than 41, even though 'no.41' was his last. A 'no.56' can be found in some collections and that number is more accurate, though with plenty of caveats. Of the canonical 41, nos. 2 and 3 are known to be spurious, no.11 is of doubtful authenticity and no.37 is by Michael Haydn (his no.25, in fact), Mozart's opening bars aside. The Köchel catalogue, as helpful and ingrained as its numbers are to Mozart fans, is rather a mess with regard to organisation, hardly improved by subsequent revisions that have resulted in many works having to be identified by two K numbers - Köchel's original (K1) and the last major revision in the 1960s (K6). The scrappy result can be seen from the track list!
Regardless of the final total, the works heard here, written by Mozart between the ages of ten and nineteen, are typically genial efforts, brimming with melodious Italianate elegance, delightfully-formed in their way. There is, admittedly, little to separate them from the early and contemporaneous symphonies of Paul Wranitzky or Joseph Kraus: this is Mozart the musical genius as 'mere' young master craftsman.
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields - hyphen-less, unlike the London church that gave them their name - are rarely anything other than excellent, and that was as true in the Seventies as it is today. Neville Marriner's name will always be synonymous with the Academy: now in his late eighties, he is Life President but still manages to conduct a few times a year. When these recordings were made he was arguably at his peak, and the orchestra responds with typical panache and gusto. Their instruments are modern, yet they still manage to sound somehow 'authentic', with well chosen tempos and the deployment of harpsichord continuo enhancing the effect.
The re-mastering is very good. It is not altogether obvious in what way these light-textured works benefit from the SACD treatment, but there is no gainsaying the impressive audio from one of the market leaders in top-quality recordings.
The four CDs come housed in a fold-out digipak-style case, with the booklet (irritatingly?) glued onto the inside back cover. The layout is neat, however, with detailed, fairly well written notes in English, German and French taking the listener through the set work by work. The opening sentence is a little sloppy: "the Köchel catalogue lists 41 symphonies from the pen of W. A. Mozart". Symphony 'no.51' appears both on disc 2 and disc 4 without explanation.
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Typically genial, brimming with melodious Italianate elegance, delightfully formed.
*Symphony no.6 in F, K.43 (176) [13:25]
Symphony no.7 in D, K.45 (1768) [11:31]
*Symphony no.7a in G, K.45a (K.221) 'Alte Lambacher' (1766-7) [8:29]
Symphony no.8 in D, K.48 (1768) [13:06]
Symphony no.9 in C, K.75a (K.73) (?1770) [11:50]
Symphony no.12 in G, K.75b (K.110) (1771) [14:28]
Symphony no.18 in F, K.130 (1772) [20:38]
Symphony no.19 in E flat, K.132 (1772) [18:15]
Andantino Grazioso (alternative slow movement for K.132) [3:36]
Symphony no.20 in D, K.133 (1772) [20:40]
+Symphony no.45 in D, K.73n (K.95) (?1770) [11:15]
+Symphony no.46 in C, K.111b (K.96) (?1771) [11:59]
Symphony no.47 in D, K.73m (K.97) (1770) [9:21]
Symphony no.48 in D, K.111a (from 'Ascanio in Alba') + K.120 (1771) [6:39]
Symphony no.50 in D, K.141a (1772) [8:12]
Symphony no.51 in D, K.196 (from 'La Finta Giardiniera') + K.121 [8:28]
Symphony no.51 in D, K.196 (from 'La Finta Giardiniera') + K.121 [8:33]
Symphony no.52 in C (2 movements from K.208 'Il Rè Pastore', plus K.213c (K.102)) (1775) [11:07]
*+Symphony no.55 in B flat, K. Anh.45b (K. Anh.214) (?1767) [11:23]
Leopold MOZART (1719-1787)
*Symphony in G, 'Neue Lambacher' (1767) [15:07]
'Köchel 6' numbers given, with 'Köchel 1' (where different) in parentheses.
+Authenticity questioned by one or more authorities
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