Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphonies, Vol. 9
11 February 2013
Fischer’s Mozart survey reaches Paris and beyond
Captivated by clarinets he had heard in Mannheim in 1777 en route to Paris, Mozart used them for the first time in Symphony No 31, written in the French capital. ‘You cannot imagine the glorious effect of a symphony with flutes, oboes and clarinets,’ he told Leopold. If the instrument’s most glorious effect had to wait until No 39, its timbre certainly makes a mark in the earlier work. Adam Fischer grabs instant attention—as Mozart doubtless intended in this calling card to the Parisians he called ‘oxen’—turning the first-movement Allegro assai into a curtainraiser of a kinetic excitement that could have run away with itself. But Fischer is in unqualified control, the clarity of SACD revealing detail but some shallowness too. The Concert Spirituel that gave the premiere had a bias towards bass instruments, including four bassoons, but the Danish orchestra doesn’t sound similarly constituted. Two slow movements were written, though doubts have been cast on their traditional order of preference. Fischer offers both.
Tempi are often rapid, perhaps based on metronome markings suggested by Czerny and Hummel. But Fischer, who separates violins and observes all repeats, is never cavalier, winsomely delicate throughout No 33 and all slow movements, notably that of No 34, written for strings with bassoon continuo, violas divided. Fischer’s pliancy of phrase and range of micro-dynamics within an overall sotto voce in this Andante di molto più tosto allegretto, are as impressive as his imperious opening movement and virtuoso finale.