Mozart Symphonies 2 - SCO & Sir Charles Mackerras - McAlister Matheson Music

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra's first set of Mozart symphonies (nos. 38-41) with Sir Charles Mackerras is one of our all-time best-sellers, and won BBC Music Magazine's ‘Record of the Year' award last year. This second volume presents symphonies written between 1774 and 1783, with Mozart responding to different circumstances for each: a public concert in Paris; a request from his father in Salzburg for a new symphony to celebrate the ennoblement of his friend Sigmund Haffner; the need to dash of a symphony for a hastily-arranged concert in Linz. It's a fascinating journey. Symphony no. 29, written in Salzburg and one of Mozart's first masterpieces, is a substantial work of great expressive range. The SCO revels in the music, with a suavely elegant yet piquant first movement, veiled, translucent string tone in the lyrical Andante, a deliciously spiky minuet and a spirited final movement with its prominent staccato horn notes and arresting ascending scales. The ‘Paris' symphony, written for a much larger orchestra, sees Mozart exploring a wide range of dramatic effects, and the SCO gives us an extra bonus by including both versions of the second movement. The brief no. 32 is packed full of ideas and quirky touches, culminating in an explosive ending with whooping horns. In these and the two later works Mackerras plays Mozart at his own game, teasing out every nuance of expression while never losing sight of the music's line and direction. It is wonderful to hear the orchestra play like a small chamber group, the sound of the string section at times akin to that of a quartet, such is the precision and delicacy of the bowing. The slow Siciliano movement of the ‘Linz' was the highlight for me, the string melodies lovingly caressed, contrasting with delicious staccato woodwind passages. Sir Charles sums up the recording: "The Scottish Chamber has for me the perfect sound for the performance of Mozart, because although they play with modern instruments, they are able to achieve the kind of sound that period orchestras product, thus they are able to produce the perfect mixture between these two different sounds." Unmissable!

01 March 2010