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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Three Salzburg Symphonies

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Three Salzburg Symphonies
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    • Symphony No. 21 in A major, K 134
  1. Allegro 5'03
  2. Andante 4'16
  3. Menuetto 4'16
  4. Allegro 4'19
    • Symphony No. 27 in G major, K 199 (162a)
  5. Allegro 6'14
  6. Andantino grazioso 7'35
  7. Presto 5'55
    • Symphony No. 34 in C major, K 338 with Menuetto, K 409
  8. Allegro vivace 7'38
  9. Andante di molto più tosto Allegretto 5'31
  10. Menuetto K409 6'50
  11. Finale: Allegro vivace 8'07

Mozart spent two thirds of his life in Salzburg – apart from the numerous tours that he undertook from a very early age – and during those years composed some 470 of the 626 works listed in the Köchel catalogue. Nevertheless, with the exception of a small number of works, the music that we revere him for today largely comes from the last period of his career, the decade following his move to Vienna in 1781. Of the around fifty symphonies that we now know he composed, 45 were written before he left Salzburg, many as entertainment for the court of his employer, the Prince-Archbishop. The Symphonies in A major, K 134 (August 1772) and in G major, K 199 (April 1773) are good examples: brilliantly written, witty and effective with numerous typically Mozartian features. They are joined here by the last symphony that Mozart wrote while still in Salzburg, the Symphony in C major, K 338. We know that it was completed in August 1780, but there is no documented performance until April 1781, by which time Mozart had already settled in Vienna. K 338 was originally supplied with a minuet, but this was later removed from the manuscript score, except for its first page, and has been lost. Manfred Huss has therefore chosen to perform another minuet, Menuetto K 409 (probably composed in 1782), in its place. He and his Haydn Sinfonietta Wien appear on 11 previous titles in the BIS catalogue, including a number of albums dedicated to rarities by Haydn. But their first BIS release was in fact another Mozart disc (BIS-1618), with the concertos for two and three pianos, which earned the ensemble critical acclaim: 'never less than lustrous' (International Record Review) and 'idiomatic and alert' (Classica-Répertoire).

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"BIS remasters recordings of two symphonies that had limited circulation a decade ago and adds a new one of K338 for a diverting snapshot of Mozart’s Salzburg music. The earlier two symphonies are little more than entertaining sequences of early-Classical sound effects, while the later work shows Mozart embarking upon the synthesis of galant melody and Haydnesque motivic writing that heralded his mature style. Some of the sound effects are ear-catching indeed: there’s a passage in the Trio of K134’s Minuet that sticks in the memory as it darkens into D minor and alternates braying horns with pizzicato violins over buzzing viola quavers, even if its finale is a long-legged, ramshackle affair that really only holds together through sheer force of will. Manfred Huss’s ear for detail and the crack playing of the Haydn Sinfonietta Wien mean that this entertainment music is treated with utmost respect, resulting in fizzing performances that are truly worth hearing. K338 presents a whole new concept of entertainment. The last of Mozart’s Salzburg symphonies, its trumpet-bedecked opening call to attention and its new-found confidence in melodic development made it a favourite of Beecham’s. For this performance, Huss makes it clear in the booklet that he has deployed a bigger orchestra in a larger hall – Mozart especially enjoyed hearing his music played by augmented ensembles. The sound matching between earlier and later recordings is ideal; the smaller venue for the K134 and K199 renders the instruments especially lifelike in contrast to the more marmoreal realisation of K338, a sound that especially suits this larger-scale work. "
David Threasher
July 2016