Mozart: Serenade in D, K239 (Serenata Notturna); Serenade in G, K525 (Eine kleine Nachtmusik); Notturno in D, K286; Ein Musikalischer Spass, K522

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Alia Vox
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Serenade in D, K239 (Serenata Notturna); Serenade in G, K525 (Eine kleine Nachtmusik); Notturno in D, K286; Ein Musikalischer Spass, K522
PERFORMER: Le Concert des Nations/Jordi Savall
CATALOGUE NO: AVSA 9846
Four of Mozart’s lighter works, three of them very familiar, played by a period-instrument ensemble of aptly-scaled size. Savall sets some brisk tempos, particularly for the slow movement of Eine kleine Nachtmusik, but they’re convincing. The soloists in the Serenata notturna are lively – the double bass and timpani are even granted cadenzas in the finale. But it’s vivid playing from everyone, well defined in outline and responding imaginatively to the varied character of Mozart’s music.

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The sound is spacious, if a little over resonant, and the multiple groups employed in two of the pieces – the Serenata notturna has a small concertino responding to the main ensemble, while the less well known Notturno is scored for four small orchestras – are nicely separated. The three-fold echo effects in the latter are especially well handled.

Mozart’s Musical Joke perhaps needs greater pointing up of its comic touches. With its platitudinous style, wrong notes and sheer general clumsiness, it’s presumably his wry comment on some of his less skilled contemporaries, though it’s hard not to feel that he carried the joke on too long. It lacks the perfect comic timing evident throughout his operas.

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It’s hard to find these pieces together outside boxed sets. Harnoncourt supplies spirited performances of K522 and K525 on Teldec, but for these particular works Savall and his team are as strong as any. George Hall