Mozart: Symphonies in G minor, K550; in C, K551 (Jupiter)

WORKS: Symphonies in G minor, K550; in C, K551 (Jupiter)
PERFORMER: Manchester Camerata/Douglas Boyd
These modern instrument performances take into account historically informed conventions of phrasing, sparing use of vibrato, and, sometimes rather annoyingly, dynamics. The first few phrases of K550 have a contrived tendency to swell towards the middle, and there’s a mismatch between the lean sound of the orchestra – well captured live in the natural acoustic of the Bridgewater Hall – and the old-fashioned way that Boyd sometimes pulls the tempo around. The extended rest before the second subject is especially disconcerting, like taking a step into thin air at the top of a staircase. And why is the minuet so fast, and the trio so much slower? Set against this, there’s the carefully balanced sonority of the orchestra, but I’d still prefer a straighter take on the music: Mackerras on modern instruments, or Immerseel’s historical approach.


In the Jupiter, there’s another distressing hiccup after the initial flourishes, subverting the pulse of the music almost before it’s begun. But after that the music is nicely controlled, with the rhythmic detail in inner parts giving it a real propulsion, even though the prevailing tempo is on the slow side. The Minuet I find hard to take, with more rests wilfully extended, though the finale is almost completely successful in its energy and clarity. But too late – and why, if it’s live, has the applause been edited out? Martin Cotton