Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphonies, Vol. 9
02 February 2013
Mozart’s “Paris” Symphony was composed in 1778 in Paris when the composer, then 22, was job-searching. Nothing was to come of that, but the work proved very popular, even though for the second round of performances Mozart composed a second Andante movement because the first had “failed to please”. Some people anyway, but Mozart later expressed a preference for the second one even though it is simpler in concept—both are given here. For the Paris performance he was blessed with one of the greatest orchestras in the world, with at least 40 violins and six bassoons; try to convince a period orchestra to play it like this these days! This is not a period orchestra either, but a chamber one, though the tempos are far too fleeting and short clipped on the phrasing to do the work justice. This piece needs a sweep and flair simply lacking here, and this surprises me considering how fine this series has been until now. But I must say this is the most disappointing performance to date though it is far from “bad”.
Symphonies 33 and 34 were completed in 1779 and 1780, the latter an example of a C-major “festive” symphony so common in Austria, and that would be revisited by the composer in his later two C-major opuses 36 and 41. Both are given outstanding performances here, brisk but lyrical, and pointedly shaped in their rhythmic jauntiness, so critical to each.
If you are collecting the series no need to stop even though the “Paris” is a whopping disappointment. But no enterprise like this is perfect, and you can always supplement. The sound remains very much like the old Nimbus Haydn series that Fischer did years ago, only with more controlled reverberation and excellent speaker balance in the Super Audio. This is Volume 9—on we go.