Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphonies Vol. 8
01 January 2011
Artistic Quality: 8
Sound Quality: 9
These performances are excellent of their type: that is, period-performance-influenced playing on modern instruments. Allegros are crisp and transparent; the winds are particularly well-balanced, and well played; the presto finale of Symphony No. 28 is extremely brilliant, with feather-light articulation from the violins at an amazingly quick tempo that somehow never turns frantic. Slow movements typically lack warmth (i.e. vibrato), making the strings sound anemic and compromising the music’s lyricism, but again, that’s the style today, historically incorrect though it may be. And unlike many authentic-instrument performances, the basic string sound isn’t raw and never strays out of tune.
What these performances lack is any vestige of personality. For all the exceptional playing, you would never know that there’s any guiding hand at the podium at all. Fischer just winds up the orchestral clock and lets it run. Certainly he deserves credit for the fine ensemble, and for his well-judged tempos–say, in the bracingly lively minuets–but the overall impression remains curiously faceless. With these symphonies, particularly No. 29, we’re approaching mature Mozart, and there’s simply more expressive potential in the music than Fischer’s somewhat generic approach realizes. In short, these performances say a lot about the prevailing high standards of execution today, and they speak volumes about what passes for correct style in music of the classical period. Do they reveal anything moving or inspired about Mozart? I’m not so sure.