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Fresh from Eloquence’s twofer dedicated to Miniatures (review) and, more pertinent to the box under review, his Baroque Legacy (review) one now arrives at this 8-CD box set that restores a strong component of Karl Münchinger’s Classical discography.
Over nine-and-a-half-hours one can listen to six Haydn symphonies and five by Mozart, all with the Vienna Philharmonic, allied to concertos from some of the greatest instrumentalists of the day – Fournier, Ferras, Kempff - and a sequence of Divertimenti and Serenades and one interloper from outside the Haydn-Mozart canon, namely Boccherini. The non-Viennese discs are played by his customary Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra or by its enlarged ensemble.
It’s veritable feast, of course, in recordings spanning the mono to stereo divide, starting in 1952 and ending in Stuttgart in 1968, with that expanded 45-strong orchestra, the Stuttgart Klassische Philharmonie, that he’d formed a couple of years before.
The Haydn symphonies are strongly argued and impressively consistent examples of his art. One doesn’t feel the Vienna Philharmonic is at all on auto-pilot, or in any way professionally obligated. As Antony Hodgson relates in his fine notes a number of these recordings emerged at around the same time that H.C. Robbins Landon’s new editions were published but Münchinger certainly wasn’t able to employ all of these editorial corrections. The Haydn symphony recordings, in fact, emerged between 1954 and 1961 (the last to be taped were numbers 83 and 100) so they were not routine sessions. His Mozart sequence was slightly less complicated. Symphonies 31 (‘Paris’), 32 (in other words the single-movement ‘Overture in G major’), and No.35, the ‘Haffner’ were taped with the Stuttgart Klassische Philharmonie in April 1968. Numbers 33 – buoyantly done - and 40 were entrusted to the Vienna Philharmonic much earlier, in 1955. The Haffner is an especially engaging reading, both sonorous and subtle. He recorded the Haffner Serenade in Vienna, the celebrated solo in the Rondo being taken by Willi Boskovsky but Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was back in his accustomed Stuttgart. Many of these represented large-scale engagements but for a measure of Münchinger deftness and gift of characterisation one could do worse than turn to the D major Divertimento or the ‘Nannerl-Septett’ where there’s absolute security of ensemble and splendid balance.
Still in Vienna, there are two esteemed concerto recordings. The Concerto for flute and harp features the orchestra’s Werner Tripp (flute) and Hubert Jellinek (harp) where the soloists are splendidly balanced against each other but without ever submerging orchestral writing. Alfred Prinz is eloquence itself in the Clarinet Concerto. Pierre Fournier plays Haydn’s Concerto No.2 in D major with accustomed aristocracy; note some of the conductor’s expressive diminuendos and one or two instances of individual string strands seeping out of the Stuttgart orchestra’s first violin section. He also plays the Boccherini confection fashioned by Friedrich Grützmacher. Christian Ferras recorded his two concertos the following year, 1954. He plays Mozart’s G major, his only studio recording of this concerto, and does so with just enough personalisation to draw the ear but not too much to destabilise things stylistically – a perfect balancing act from this great artist. He also plays the inauthentic Concerto No.6, K268, which was, in any case, mis-numbered ‘No.7’ on the LP sleeve. It’s possibly by Johann Friedrich Eck (1767-1838), though Mozart himself did perform it. Despite its dull sequential writing in places, Ferras plays with real commitment, notably in the best movement, the finale, the most ‘Mozartian’. Wilhelm Kempff recorded two Mozart concertos in September 1953 with Münchinger and a Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra augmented by members of Ansermet’s Suisse Romande. Kempff is beautifully limpid in the Jeunehomme with scaled-down playing of great finesse but in No.15 in B flat major he plays on a wider, more expressive canvass. All the cadenzas are by Mozart, though that in the finale of No.15 is, to be precise, Mozart-Kempff.
So there is much to admire and appreciate in this boxed set and it’s also been splendidly transferred. It’s instructive to see photographs of the fully annotated box housings of the archival tapes in the booklet, as well as some fine illustrations. The discs are housed in card LP miniaturisations, a now fairly ubiquitous touch but one I’m sure people appreciate.
Jonathan Woolf Contents Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphony No. 83 in G minor 'The Hen '[20:44]
Symphony No. 88 in G major [19:45 Symphony No. 96 in D major 'Miracle' [22:02]
Symphony No. 100 in G major 'Military' [22:30]
Symphony No. 101 in D major 'The Clock' [25:09]
Symphony No. 104 in D major 'London' [26:07] Cello Concerto in D Major, Hob.VIIb:2 [26:09]
Pierre Fournier (cello) Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (91756-1791) Symphony No. 31 in D, K297 'Paris' [18:30]
Symphony No. 32 in G major, K318 [8:04]
Symphony No. 33 in B flat major, K319 [20:01]
Symphony No. 35 in D major, K385 'Haffner' [16:47] Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K550 [24:52]
Flute and Harp Concerto in C major, K299 [29:30]
Werner Tripp (flute), Hubert Jellinek (harp)
Clarinet Concerto in A major, K622 [29:25]
Alfred Prinz (clarinet)
Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K216 [24:03]
Violin Concerto No.7 (6) in E flat, KV268 (doubtful attrib.) [25:15]
Christian Ferras (violin) Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat major, K271 ‘Jeunehomme’ [31:45] Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat major, K450 [25:54]
Wilhelm Kempff (piano)
Serenade No. 7 in D major, K250 'Haffner' [49:35]
Willi Boskovsky (violin)
Serenade No. 13 in G major, K525 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik' [14:34]
Divertimento in D major, K136 [11:40]
Divertimento No. 11 in D Major, K. 251 ‘Nannerl-Septett’ [21:11]
Les Petits Riens (ballet) K Anh. 10 / 299b [20:04]
Ein musikalischer Spass K522 [18:20] Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)
Cello Concerto No. 9 in B flat major, G482 [21:13]
Pierre Fournier (cello)