Mozart: Symphonies Nos 40 & 41
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Symphonies Nos 40 & 41
PERFORMER: Tafelmusik Orchestra/Bruno Weil
CATALOGUE NO: 82876895042
The tempo at the outset of the 40th Symphony seems quite swift, and compared with some conductors of the older generation – Knappertsbusch, Böhm or Scherchen – it is. But Weil’s take on Mozart’s Molto Allegro marking is almost identical to Furtwängler’s in his famously speedy reading, and there’s something of the same roundness to the sound, though the period instruments give a brightness to the wind chording, which comes to the fore even more in the slow movement. Here, Weil seems to be falling between two stools, uncertain whether to go for elegance of phrasing, or the weight which the harmonically adventurous climaxes demand. Turning to Immerseel’s recording, there’s more clarity of purpose in the variety of orchestral colour which illuminates the musical structure. Weil is at his best in the muscular reading of the Menuetto, though the finale is not as light on its feet as it could be.
In the Jupiter, Weil is clearly intent in making a grand statement, with strong accents, and a big band sound – well recorded in a generous acoustic. Sometimes I can’t see the trees for the wood, as this approach suppresses detail. That’s even more the case in the finale where Mozart’s multi-layered contrapuntal invention tends to be generalised in dynamics and homogenised in texture. Gardiner or Immerseel have a much subtler insight into this incredible achievement.