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The Joy of Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Così fan tutte, K588: Overture [5:06]
Sinfonia of London/Muir Mathieson
First released on World Record Club T21. ADD/stereo
Così fan tutte Act I: Come scoglio [6:08]
Helen Lawrence (soprano)
National Philharmonic Orchestra/Robin Stapleton
Beulah live recording, 1979. ADD/stereo
Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat, K482 [33:34]
Camerata Academica des Salzburger Mozarteums/Géza Anda (piano)
First released on DG SLPM138824 in 1962. ADD/stereo
Symphony No. 39 in E-flat, K543 [28:44]
Sinfonia of London/Sir Colin Davis
First released on World Record Club ST43 in 1960. ADD/stereo
Download only
BEULAH 1PDR6 [73:34]

 All the items on this reissue have appeared separately as Beulah Extra releases but unless you have already obtained some of them, together they make an attractive programme.

Muir Mathieson appears first with the Sinfonia of London, the ad hoc orchestra which he founded in 1955, consisting of players from the London orchestras, chiefly for film music but also much employed by World Record Club, itself an offshoot of EMI.  This stylish recording of the Così fan tutte Overture first appeared on LP with Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Schubert’s Fifth Symphony.  It has already been released on Beulah Extra 3BX93, the Nachtmusik on 2BX93 and the Schubert on 1BX93 – all reviewed in November 2010 along with several other Mozart releases on Beulah Extra.

Beulah have made something of a speciality of Come scoglio, with recordings featuring Suzanne Danco (2BX177), Teresa Stich-Randall (1BX167) and this one with Helen Lawrence, already released on Beulah Extra 8BX55.  Reviewing Lawrence in a number of arias on various Beulah Extra recordings in October 2010 I thought the Mozart the pick of a fine bunch, with excellent support from orchestra and conductor and more recent sound than on other Beulah reissues (review).

Géza Anda was one of the first to record Mozart piano concertos in the dual role of soloist and conductor.  Though not universally well received on their appearance, his recordings still sound stylish over 50 years on.  What then seemed lacking in charm is more in tune with the modern view of Mozart as anything other than a figurine on a pedestal.  If you want that older view of Mozart at its best, Beulah Extra have Annie Fischer and Sir Adrian Boult in Piano Concerto No.20, K466 (1-3BX130), and No.23, K488 (5-8BX130).

The Linn Studio Master reissue of the Anda recording is no longer on offer as it was when I reviewed No.6 and No.22 on 7-9BX88 and 4-6BX88 respectively in DL News 2013/9 but the Beulah transfer will do very nicely.

If you enjoy Anda’s Mozart as much as I expect, you can complement it by downloading his famous version of Piano Concerto No.21 – the recording used for the film Elvira Madigan – on DG Works 4790987 for just £2.49 or £3.06 (mp3 and lossless respectively, with pdf booklet) from  Several of Anda’s recordings of some of the other mature Mozart concertos may be found on Australian DG Eloquence.

We end as we began with the Sinfonia of London, this time conducted by the young Colin Davis.  It was World Record Club who gave him his first leg up the ladder of fame, with recordings of Mozart Symphonies Nos. 29 and 39 (ST43) and No.34 with Leon Goossens in the Oboe Concerto (T59).  Soon afterwards EMI began to take him seriously with a wonderful recording of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony on HMV Concert Classics: Beulah 15-16BX129 – Download Roundup February 2012/1.

We’ve already had those four Mozart recordings on Beulah 3PD44: excellent value with over 92 minutes of music on a single album from Amazon UK.  I reviewed that in DL News 2013/7 and, though the tempi are consistently somewhat sedate, I still enjoy the performances, all well transferred by Beulah.  You can also obtain the Colin Davis recording of Symphony No.29 separately on Beulah Extra 1-4BX129DL News 2013/5.

As with some other recent Beulah releases which gather together in album format reissues which were already available as separate tracks from Beulah Extra, there’s something of a duplication problem for those who purchased them in that form, perhaps after having read my review.  That’s my only serious reservation about The Joy of Mozart and you can always avoid the problem by going for those other Beulah recordings.  Otherwise together they make an attractive package.  The performances are all still well worth hearing and all the transfers have been made with Beulah’s usual care and skill.  All that remains is for them to start releasing their recordings in lossless sound – they are made in wav format and reach me in that quality, so I have to convert them to 256kb/s mp3 to hear how they will sound from Amazon and iTunes and they inevitably lose a little quality in the process.  It’s not for me to tell anyone how to run their business but High Definition Tape Transfers have proved that there is a market for lossless, 24-bit and even DSD transfers of older recordings. 

There was always more in the grooves than we thought, even with the most expensive equipment that I could afford at the time – I would have played the Anda Mozart from the university record library on a Garrard AT6 turntable with a C1 ceramic cartridge.  As I progressed, eventually to a Shure M97EJ cartridge, unfortunately the snap, crackle and pop increased too, despite my best efforts with a Parastat and Dust Bug.  I’m not nostalgic for the days of LP, but Beulah give us the best of all worlds, getting all the music out of the grooves without the unwanted noise.

Brian Wilson