Leonard Bernstein's Late Mozart Symphony recordings come from the 1980s when the market was deluged with "authentic" and "period" style offerings from the likes of Trevor Pinnock and Christopher Hogwood. Bernstein, never a slave to fashion, conjured up some wonderfully "old fashioned" performances, full of rich orchestral sonorities, generous helpings of vibrato, and unabashedly romantic pacing, phrasing, and rubato. That's not to say that Bernstein's renditions are stylistically inappropriate, for it's a palpable sense of joy in music making that comes across most strongly in these readings. No. 38 pulses with the same life-affirming energy that infuses Nos. 36, 38, 39, and 41, while the dark drama of No. 40Read more smolders just beneath the surface of the glorious sheen of the Vienna strings. The strings also produce radiant tones in No. 39's first movement, where Bernstein points up the music's precursory hints of Beethoven's Eroica.
Bernstein's rather gentle intro to No. 41 certainly doesn't launch the symphony like a rocket the way George Szell's classic recording does, but he invests the finale with a cocksure grandeur that is thrilling. The Haffner receives an exciting reading that, with its mixture of warmth and vitality, succeeds where James Levine's contemporaneous stiffly paced and repeat-laden Vienna recording fails.
Bernstein's Symphony No. 29 could have profited from the "new" style rapid tempos, as his slowish reading sounds a bit too heavy for the material (the recording was made during Bernstein's illness-ridden last year in 1990). On the other hand, No. 25 is a terse and taut performance in the best classical tradition. DG's recordings, taken from live performances, relate the occasions with satisfying impact. Even with the pile of Mozart symphony discs on the market, Bernstein's compelling renditions easily command your attention and warrant your purchase.
These recordings are priceless!September 30, 2012By Jim W. (San Francisco, CA)See All My Reviews"I bought most of the Bernstein Mozart recording listed here after I listened to the Charles Elliot Norton lectures from Harvard with Leonard Bernstein (The Unanswered Question). Bernstein showed such a complete mastery and comprehension of these works ("authentic & period" be damned) that I believe them to be definitive interpretations. Sometimes "authentic & period" just doesn't work for me."Report Abuse