Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphonies Vol. 2
01 September 2013
Richard WigmoreJuvenile symphonies for Fischer's latest Danish Mozart
It takes a fanatical Mozartian to claim these prepubescent symphonies as masterpieces. Yet each of them reveals the 12-year-old composer as a precocious musical magpie, effortlessly manipulating the clichés of galanterie and opera buffa. Fast movements are long on Italianate fizz and bustle, short on characteristic Mozartian lyricism. But their vigour and breezy confidence are often infectious, whether in the proud sequences of K45a's opening Allegro maestoso, the trumpet-and-drum-festooned ceremony of the two D major symphonies, K45 and K48, or the fiery jig finales. If some of the slow movements can trip along innocuously, the andante of K43 is a luminous rococo tapestry, with muted violins singing over divided violas and pizzicato basses, and flutes adding a delicate wash to the textures: a glimpse here of the Arcadian enchantment Mozart conjured in the slow movements of his violin concertos.
Though not without his idiosyncrasies above all his fetish for solo strings in the trios of minuets and elsewhere - Adam Fischer directs his trim, precise Danish band with verve and imagination. Rhythms are tinglingly alive, occasionally to the verge of impetuosity. They relish the swagger and bold dynamic contrasts of the D major symphonies, give a true maestoso breadth to the opening movement of K45a, and bring a scampering, coltish glee to the finales. Fischer nicely judges, too, the guileless charm of the slow movements, delicately balancing the textures and never allowing accompaniments to lapse into autopilot.
Tweaking Mozart's marked dynamics for expressive effect, he turns the rather dulllooking Andante of K45 into a quasi-operatic dialogue that pitches grace against gruffness. You can imagine the composer smiling in approval.
Among the competition, the performances directed by Harnoncourt and Pinnock match Fischer in vitality and benefit from the bittersweet tang of period instruments. On the new recording the resonant acoustic can soak up the oboes and horns in the tuttis. But if you want these symphonies on modern instruments, played with élan, sensitivity (not least in the exquisitely realised Andante of K43) and a palpable sense of enjoyment, Fischer is your man.