English Classical Player - Mozart & Schubert Symphonies -Gramophone

Outwardly, 1991 would hardly seem a propitious time for a recently formed ensemble to make its recording debut in Mozart's great and tragic G minor Symphony. It has to be said that few aspiring interpreters even begin to enumerate the riches of the colossal minor-key works, and yet this performance is good in many ways, and as such it augurs well for any future recording venture by these artists. Jonathan Brett conducts with sympathetic intelligence and the English Classical Players (who play modern instruments and are not to be confused with the London Classical Players) are agile and disciplined. Tempos are usually well judged and evident care has been taken over questions of balance and dynamics. The reading begins to falter in its inability to sustain the inner disquiet of the symphony's minor-key tonality, culminating with the incalculable grief of the final Allegro assai. Here, then, is an interpretation which is comfortable and concise—never charismatic. Although plausible, this is not, and does not claim to be, anything unique in a highly competitive field.

Of course, Schubert's sunny Fifth Symphony does not plumb the depths or challenge our intellectual resolve in anything like the same degree. For just such reasons, Brett's interpretation of this symphony is far more rewarding, and I enjoyed its freshness and sense of delight very much. The playing sparkles in the joyous outer movements, and the lovely Andante con moto is winningly delectable.

The recording was made in the glowing ambience of London's Henry Wood Hall. The sound really leaves very little to be desired, with every detail faithfully captured. Clearly, Linn Audio have invested much in a system which, on the evidence so far, has great potential; it would be interesting to see how it copes with the added demands of a large-scale orchestral work. As one would expect from a company specializing in high-quality turntables and allied products, Linn recordings are also available in 'audiophile' LP format, as well as Compact Disc.'

01 July 1991