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Leopold MOZART (1719-1787)
Serenade in D major, LMV VIII:9 [42:49]
Concerto for two horns in E flat major, LMV IX:9 (1752) [11:44]
Sinfonia in G major Neue Lambacher, LMV VII:G16 (1769) [20:50]
Carsten Carey Duffin, Philipp Römer (horns)
Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie/Reinhard Goebel
rec. May 2015, Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich

This is not a release I would normally request to review, but I thought that the presence of Reinhard Goebel would guarantee lively performances of fairly obscure music, even if the composer is anything but obscure. How wrong I was.

The Serenade is an odd beast, comprising as it does two different two-movement concertinos as well as other movements for the whole orchestra. The fifth and sixth movements are better known as a standalone trumpet concerto in D, which I recognised from a far superior recording by Maurice André, immediately followed by two movements with a solo part for alto trombone. The work was intended for performance outdoors, and is the model for his son’s 1779 Posthorn Serenade. Perhaps one had to be there in Salzburg to get full enjoyment from this. I found it bland and limp.

The Concerto wasn’t an improvement. The two horns burbled away without ever threatening to break into any sort of memorable tune, and again the performance had no life to it at all. I was finding it hard to believe that it was being directed by the same person who made those brilliant recordings of Heinichen (and others) with Musica Antiqua Köln for the Archiv label.

The symphony is certainly the best work, both musically and performance-wise. It has a verve and energy that the first two lack. It has been recorded before, on Naxos with a modern instrument New Zealand ensemble (review), and on CPO with the very authentic-instrument L’Orfeo Baroque Orchestra (review). I’ve heard the latter, and it has greater character, though the horns are rather raucous.

As you will have gathered, I was very disappointed by this. The Chandos recording of six of Leopold’s symphonies by the London Mozart Players with Mathias Bamert is far superior. While there is no overlap between the two, you would have to be a very serious Leopold Mozart aficionado to want this. Production values are perfectly fine, though I’m not a fan of the presentation method where the booklet is glued into the front cardboard cover.

David Barker



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