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Mozart: Early Symphonies / Pinnock, The English Concert


Release Date: 12/29/2009 
Label:  Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog #: 437792   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 57 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Outstandingly vital and stylish.

"Why KI6 should ever be performed is incomprehensible." When the late Hans Keller threw down the gauntlet in The Symphony (Penguin: 1966), recording companies seemed to be on his side. K16, like all Mozart's symphonies before the G minor, K183, had serious rarity value on disc and, for that matter, in the concert-hall. Nowadays, especially after the 1991 bicentenary junketings, you may feel that things have swung too far the other way. When Trevor Pinnock's projected series is complete it will, by my reckoning, be the seventh complete CD cycle of Mozart's 50-odd symphonies, many of them boyhood works—evidence of today's voracious appetite for all things Mozartian but also,
Read more perhaps, of an exaggerated reverence for the music he wrote in his childhood and adolescence. Though Keller, typically, was being deliberately provocative, it seems to me misplaced piety to devote so much attention to Mozart's early symphonies when more characterful, compelling works by his contemporaries remain unavailable on disc—symphonies by Boccherini, for example, or by J. C. Bach, whose music so impressed the boy Mozart in London.

After these heretical thoughts I should in fairness say that Pinnock's Mozart symphony cycle is only the second to use period instruments, and that the performances on these four discs are outstandingly vital and stylish, making the most persuasive case for this music. Hogwood's pioneering period cycle from the early 1980s, with its revelations of articulation and sonority, is often exciting, but suffers from intermittent roughness of execution and an often stiff, austere approach to the slow movements. In both these respects Pinnock and The English Concert are far preferable, reflecting the advance in all facets of period performance in the intervening decade. The string sound is recognizably 'authentic' in its bright edge and restrained use of vibrato, but is altogether smoother, sweeter and more subtly coloured than on the Hogwood discs. Ensemble is more polished, tuning (especially of the oboes) far more precise. And Pinnock is not only more elegant and affectionate in the slow movements, but often shapes the Allegros more purposefully, with more considered phrasing and surer long-term control.

A few comments on the individual discs now. The first contains six works (KOchel Nos. 16, 19, 19a, 22, 43 and 45a) written between 1764, when Mozart was eight, and late 1767, just before his twelfth birthday. Though the invention here is often rudimentary, Mozart already reveals himself as a precocious musical mimic, adeptly manipulating the clichés of the contemporary galant style. Pinnock does the faster movements with élan and a terrific rhythmic fling, yet always has time for telling detail. Textures are, as always, ideally transparent, and violins divided on opposite sides so that the many antiphonal passages make their proper effect. In slow movements like the Andante of K19, with its hint of bucolic bagpipes, and that of K22, an attractively plaintive G minor piece, Pinnock allows the music more time to breathe than Hogwood and phrases altogether more delicately and expressively.

The second disc covers the years 1768-70, and begins with Mozart's first symphony with trumpets and drums, K45, unremarkable in its actual ideas but shrewdly laid out for maximum orchestral brilliance. Pinnock brings a splendid swagger and characteristically sharp dynamic contrasts to the first movement and makes that much more than Hogwood of the sighing appoggiaturas in the trio of the minuet. More trumpets and timpani in another D major Symphony, K48, a more elaborate, closely developed work (I found the minuet as performed here a touch hectic, lacking in poise), and in the C major, K73, where Pinnock is broader and weightier than Hogwood in the first movement and, as so often, brings a greater cantabile warmth to the Andante. Again, Pinnock drives too hard in the minuet of the B flat, K45b, though the symphony as a whole is infectiously done. Another work on this disc, K76, is of doubtful authenticity, though it features on most of the available cycles: the first movement is primitive and harmonically inert, uncharacteristically gauche in workmanship (if it really is by Mozart), and only the minuet, with its busy, angular D minor trio, consistently holds the attention.

Most of the works on the third disc were written on Mozart's first two Italian journeys, in the spring and summer of 1770 and the autumn of 1771; and they are distinctly Italianate in their harmonic and textural simplicity and easy buffo brilliance. Contemporary sources reveal that the Italian orchestras for the symphonies with trumpets and drums (K95 and K97) numbered 24 violins, with the bass line reinforced by five bassoons. Hogwood emulates these forces, to striking effect; Pinnock retains his usual, much smaller body of strings, giving immensely spirited performances that inevitably lack Hogwood's sheer sonorcus splendour. More distinctive and sophisticated in invention is K75 in F, probably written in Salzbuig between the Italian journeys. The first movement is on quite an ample scale, and is beautifully judged by Pinnock, fiery yet spacious. The eloquent Andante, with muted violins, is far more sensitive than in the rapid, graceless Hogwood reading; but, like Hogwood, Pinnock arbitrarily uses solo strings in the trio of the minuet. More puzzlingly, he inverts the order of the two middle movements, placing the Andante first—is there some newly discovered source for this?

Not surprisingly, the final disc, with five symphonies from 1771 and early 1772, contains the most consistently memorable music in this set. At 15 Mozart was acquiring a more individual symphonic voice: in works like K110 in G, with its fetching, propulsive triple-time opening movement, evocatively scored Andante (flutes and bassoons replacing oboes and horns) and its canonic minuet enclosing a grave E minor trio; or K112 in F, with its shapely, cogently developed initial Allegro and a 3/8 final movement that has far more finesse of detail than Mozart's trite early finales in the same metre. Pinnock does the outer movements of both symphonies with a splendid swing and a strong feel for the music's dance background; and the gentle-toned wooden flutes and slightly puffy old bassoons make for delicious sonorities in the Andante of K110. Finest of all these symphonies, though, is the very Viennese K 114 in A major, a key that invariably drew something out of the ordinary from Mozart. The first movement, with its luminous textures (high horns complemented by flutes rather than oboes), has a particularly expressive second theme in imitation (0'58"), shaped by Pinnock with a vocal eloquence. He brings just the right sturdiness to the minuet (Hogwood is exaggeratedly detached in his phrasing here), while the finale provides a brilliant, inspiriting send-off. K114 is one of the few early symphonies I want to hear quite frequently, and I suspect that Pinnock's reading will now be first off the shelves. In fact, whatever my own lack of enthusiasm for some of the actual music on the earlier discs, this superb new set, recorded with truthful immediacy, becomes my prime recommendation for these juvenile symphonies, ahead of both the Hogwood and the excellent modern-instrument versions from Marriner (Philips) and Mackerras (Telarc).

-- Gramophone [11/1993]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in E flat major, K 16 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1764; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 13 Minutes 57 Secs. 
2.
Symphony in F major, K Anh. 223 (19a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1765; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 11 Minutes 26 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 4 in D major, K 19 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1765; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 9 Minutes 2 Secs. 
4.
Symphony no 5 in B flat major, K 22 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1765; Netherlands 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 41 Secs. 
5.
Symphony no 7a in G major, K Anh. 221 (45a) "Old Lambach" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1765-1766; The Hague, Netherlan 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 12 Minutes 25 Secs. 
6.
Symphony no 6 in F major, K 43 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1767; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 17 Minutes 1 Secs. 
7.
Symphony no 7 in D major, K 45 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1768; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 10 Minutes 45 Secs. 
8.
Symphony no 8 in D major, K 48 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1768; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 13 Minutes 25 Secs. 
9.
Symphony no 9 in C major, K 73 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1772; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 12 Minutes 40 Secs. 
10.
Symphony no 43 in F major, K 76 (42a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1767; ?Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 14 Minutes 42 Secs. 
11.
Symphony no 55 in B flat major, K Anh. 214 (45b) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1768; ?Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 13 Minutes 24 Secs. 
12.
Symphony no 44 in D major, K 81 (73l) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1770; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 9 Minutes 57 Secs. 
13.
Symphony no 47 in D major, K 97 (73m) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1770; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 10 Minutes 42 Secs. 
14.
Symphony no 45 in D major, K 95 (73n) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1770; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 11 Minutes 46 Secs. 
15.
Symphony no 11 in D major, K 84 (73q) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1770; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 9 Minutes 27 Secs. 
16.
Symphony no 54 in B flat major, K Anh. 216 (C11.03) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1770-1771; Milan, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 13 Minutes 53 Secs. 
17.
Symphony no 42 in F major, K 75 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 14 Minutes 16 Secs. 
18.
Symphony no 46 in C major, K 96 (111b) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771; Milan, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 14 Minutes 24 Secs. 
19.
Symphony no 10 in G major, K 74 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1770; Milan, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 7 Minutes 39 Secs. 
20.
Symphony no 12 in G major, K 110 (75b) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 17 Minutes 6 Secs. 
21.
Symphony no 13 in F major, K 112 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771; Milan, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 15 Minutes 21 Secs. 
22.
Symphony no 14 in A major, K 114 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 20 Minutes 46 Secs. 
23.
Symphony no 15 in G major, K 124 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1772; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 15 Minutes 40 Secs. 

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