WORKS: Salzburg Symphony No. 16; Salzburg Symphony No. 17; Salzburg Symphony No. 18; Salzburg Symphony No. 19; Salzburg Symphony No. 20; Salzburg Symphony No. 21; Salzburg Symphony No. 22; Salzburg Symphony No. 23; Salzburg Symphony No. 24; Salzburg Symphony No.
PERFORMER: English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
CATALOGUE NO: 439 915-2 DDD
My French friends are always complaining that British performances of Haydn and Mozart symphonies on original instruments – especially Mozart – leave them cold. So I tried to listen to this new CD set of Mozart’s Salzburg Symphonies (not all of them, however: the ones he wrote when he returned from Paris, K318, 319 & 338, are missing) with doubly objective ears.
The sound is full and the recording, like all DG issues, is very professional. The performances are very well rehearsed and sound crisp, with some attention to the latest scholarly research, eg the use of the recently discovered kettledrum part in Symphony No. 28 in C. The celebrated Symphony No. 25 in G minor is energetically performed in its quick movements; and, typically, all the repeats are taken, which adds up to some 27 minutes, a substantial timing and the length of an average London Symphony by Haydn. (Who says these early Mozart symphonies are without substance?)
But while listening to this warm-hearted, vivid, sympathetic music, I could not escape a certain froideur, a lack of commitment which in turn gives the whole a sense of permanent impersonality. I also found annoying Pinnock’s habit of making strong ritardandos at the ends of movements, which sound, to my ears, old-fashioned and unstylish (for example in Symphony No. 28).
The notes in the booklet are very good, and in four languages. In short, this is a set with mixed blessings. I am afraid that my French friends were proved right in this case: these are indeed very cool interpretations. Is this reallythe way Mozart intended this music to sound? HC Robbins Landon