Mozart: Symphony No. 35; Symphony No. 36

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart Symphonies No.s 35 & 36
WORKS: Symphony No. 35; Symphony No. 36
PERFORMER: Prague Philharmonia/Jií Blohlávek
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901891
The Haffner and Linz are among Mozart’s most exuberant and energetic symphonies, and in the case of the Haffner he wanted its first movement to be ‘pretty fiery’, and its finale ‘as fast as possible’. In order not to disrupt the music’s impetus he struck out the opening movement’s repeat when he transformed the work from a serenade into a symphony – so a black mark to Jií Blohlávek for reinstating it. The question of repeats in the slow movement is more a matter of taste, but in Blohlávek’s rather dragging and inelegant performance the long second half of the Haffner’s Andante becomes wearisome when played through again. Even more trying is the slow movement of the Linz, which is stretched out by the same means to very nearly a quarter of an hour.

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Blohlávek’s account of the Haffner’s opening movement is as fiery as you could want, but the finale is a touch on the safe side. Karl Böhm is only a hair’s breadth quicker, but the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra sounds much more as though it’s on its toes. And Blohlávek’s lethargic view of the Linz Symphony’s first movement may have been prompted by the four-to-the-bar notation, but Mozart was by no means consistent about these things, and Böhm conveys the ‘spirited’ Allegro marking much more successfully. All in all, a disappointment. Misha Donat