Mozart: Haffner Serenade; March in D K249

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Haffner Serenade; March in D K249
PERFORMER: Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century/Frans Brüggen
CATALOGUE NO: 432 997-2 DDD
Mozart composed two celebratory serenades for the wealthy Haffner family of Salzburg. The second was subsequently transformed into the famous Haffner Symphony, No. 35; while the first is probably Mozart’s largest purely orchestral work altogether – no fewer than eight movements, plus an introductory march. The occasion for such splendour was the marriage, on 22 July 1776, of the daughter of the house. The music Mozart provided is appropriately high-spirited, though not without its more sombre moments. The first of its Minuet movements is a forerunner of the passionate Minuet from the G minor Symphony, No. 40; while the second has a whispered Trio in the dark key of D minor, with divided violas casting a warm glow.

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There is much to enjoy in this affectionate performance – not least the infectious lilt of the opening march. At times, though, Brüggen’s tempi strike me as too lively by half: the Serenade’s outer movements, in particular, sound rushed and aggressive. Three of the remaining movements form a miniature violin concerto, but Lucy van Dael’s lacklustre playing fails to make an impression and the well-known rondo (once a favourite virtuoso encore piece) pushes her technique to its limit. Misha Donat