Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphonies Vol. 2
01 September 2013
International Record Review
John WarrackThis latest volume in Adam Fischer's Mozart symphony series
concentrates on five works dating from 1767-68, when the 11- and 12-year-old Mozart was in Vienna, pouring out music that included two operas (La Jinta semplice
and Bastien und Bastienne
) as well as these five symphonies and a good deal else. Claus Johansen's essays, an interesting feature of the series, here concentrate on the composer's position in society and in particular Mozart's relationship with his audiences. They include no discussion of the symphonies, and while it can be argued that they are the product of extraordinary talent but not yet mature and subtle genius, there are plenty of striking features of which to take note. Already the boy Mozart's ear is fascinated by original textures, especially in the Andantes
. That of K43 consists chiefly of a long melodic line for muted violins accompanied by flutes, horns, pizzicato violins and bass with doubled violas sawing away in the middle - a complicated mix that works strikingly well (and is cared for by Fischer and his scrupulous recording engineers). The Andante
for K45a, following a surprisingly Sturm und Drang
-like Allegro maestoso
, has another original scoring with muted strings and horns, giving a curiously veiled effect.
Other movements suggest a questing ear that is already amazingly sure, including with Minuets, especially in K48, a movement which, after a vehement opening Allegro and an Andante for strings alone, seems to be trying to get away from the courtly civilities of the dance. The finales, mostly brief, are sometimes a little more perfunctory, but can, as in K45b, pack a lot of energy - not just speed - into a short space, and Fischer judges pace and weight admirably.
In short, these are lively and attractive works, played with wit and assurance and no attempt to weight them with more expression that they really contain.