The Jupiter Project: Mozart in the nineteenth-century drawing room
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Die Zauberflöte, K620: Overture (arr. Johann Nepomuk Hummel) [6:52]
Piano Concerto No.21 in C, ‘Munich version’, K467 (arr. Johann Baptist
Cramer, 1836) [28:42]
Le Nozze di Figaro, K492: Overture (arr. Hummel) [4:47]
Symphony No.41 in C, K551 ‘Jupiter’ (arr. Muzio Clementi, 1822) [39:30]
Bonus Download Tracks:
Piano Concerto No 21 in C ‘London version’, K467 (arr. Cramer) [28:14]
David Owen Norris (piano)
Katy Bircher (flute)
Caroline Balding (violin)
Andrew Skidmore (cello)
rec. 2018, Cooper Hall, Frome, UK.
Reviewed as 24/96 download with pdf booklet from
[79:49 (CD), 108:05 (download)]
This recording arose from the research project ‘Jupiter: Mozart in the
nineteenth-century drawing room’, led by Professors Mark Everist and David
Owen Norris at the University of Southampton, and funded by the Arts and
Humanities Research Council.
Mozart arranged some of his own piano concertos for domestic performance
and there are several recordings of Nos. 11-14 in this format. There are
also recordings of chamber arrangements of some of the other concertos by
other composers, but this is, to the best of my knowledge, the most
complete album of its kind.
Naxos have recorded Alon Goldstein with the augmented Fine Arts Quartet in
Piano Concertos Nos. 20. K466 and 21, K467 (8.573398). I thought that these
small-scale arrangements would make a fine addition to a Mozart library
which also contains the originals –
– but Jens F Laursen was far less impressed –
Whatever else you may think of that Naxos CD, it’s rather short value,
which certainly cannot be said of the new Hyperion, especially if you
choose the download version, available in 16-bit, 24/96 and 24/192 formats.
Of course, a great deal is lost in these domestic arrangements. At the very
start of the first track, the mighty chords which summon our attention in
the Zauberflöte Overture sound rather like St Paul’s proverbial
tinkling cymbal, but much is gained, too, in hearing details which can be
missed in a full-blown orchestral recording.
Hummel’s arrangement of the Figaro Overture comes out rather better,
with the scurrying violin passages sounding well under David Owen Norris’s
fingers on the piano. It’s a Broadwood instrument from 1826, sounding more
like a fortepiano than the modern grand and ideal for the music.
Cramer’s arrangements of K467 were never published, but Professor Owen
Norris has squirreled out a three-stave manuscript of the parts for what he
calls the ‘Jupiter’ ensemble of flute, violin and cello. You need to
download the album to enjoy the 1827 ‘London’ version and compare it with
the 1836 ‘Munich’ version, which is included in both formats. Those who
purchase the CD can download the bonus tracks from
free of charge.
I enjoyed hearing these two versions of the so-called ‘Elvira Madigan’
concerto, very soon after praising the recent Chandos recording of K466 and
K467 from Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and the Manchester Camerata (CHAN20083). I
was far from alone in recommending the Chandos, but the new Hyperion makes
for a most interesting and enjoyable pendant. Having written that I’m now
likely to choose the Bavouzet recording above my earlier favourites –
– I now expect to turn to Hyperion for K467 in preference to the Naxos
recording1. The slow movement, as used in the film, has a
delicacy in this account which achieves its effect without any trace of
undue sensibility, at least as well as my favourite period-instrument
recording from Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano) and the Kölner Akademie (Nos.
14 and 21: BIS-2054, SACD or download from
eclassical.com). At 7:30 in both versions
on Hyperion it’s taken more slowly
than by Bavouzet and much more slowly than by Brautigam – more slowly even
than by Géza Anda in 1961 (DG, the recording used for the film) – but
without any sense of dragging the music out. With all the laughter of Mozart’s music captured in the rondo finale,
the album is worth the asking price for these two performances alone. If the
Naxos recording casts an interesting sidelight on familiar music, the new
Hyperion is rather more.
Inevitably, the Clementi arrangement of Mozart’s grandest symphony, the Jupiter, though it lends its name to the whole project, suffers some
diminution of its grandeur. Though it’s surprisingly less diminished than
the Zauberflöte Overture, I’m not sure that I shall want to listen
to this part of the recording too often. The symphony as a cut-down piano
concerto effectively becomes a different work, though one that's enjoyable in its own right.
Writing before the release of the
recording, I’m not sure which track Hyperion will offer as a sampler, but
they always offer short previews of each track from their website and I
suggest that you try those of the symphony to make your own decision.
It’s not all loss, however – as with the other music here it’s possible to
hear inner details which are easily lost in full-scale performances. And,
along with the rest of the programme, I cannot imagine a better realisation
of the arrangement.
It’s become almost routine for me to have to warn readers of huge variations in
pricing policy; in this case, the dealer price for the CD varies from £12.75, reduced
to £11.50, to £17.17. The Hyperion downloads range from £8.99 (16-bit)
via £13.50 (24/96) to £15.75 (24/192). Be warned that the 24/192 is a
very large file. The CD direct from Hyperion costs £10.50.
Given clear recording to complement the performances and a very informative
set of notes from David Owen Norris and Mark Everist, this is a fascinating
release. I shall certainly be returning to these arrangements of K467 and
the Figaro Overture, perhaps less often to the other works, but it’s
all very well done.
for the budget-price download of Richard Goode’s Nonesuch recording of Nos.
18 and 20.