WORKS: Early Symphonies: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8′ Symphony No. 9; Symphony No. 10; Symphony No. 11′ Symphony No. 12′ Symphony No. 13′ Symphony No. 14′ Symphon
PERFORMER: The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
CATALOGUE NO: 437 792-2 DDD
Mozart composed his first symphony during the family’s visit to
London. When Leopold fell ill, Mozart and his sister were forbidden to disturb him by playing the harpsichord, so Wolfgang set about writing a symphony, asking Nannerl to be sure to remind him to give the horn something to do. The result certainly is remarkable for an eight-year-old – indeed, it has a vitality and freshness that are lacking in some of his following symphonies. Not to mince words, most of these youthful
works (many of them of dubious authenticity) are pretty undistinguished, and listening to their pervasive string tremolos over ‘chugging’ bass-lines, and the anodyne melodies of their slow movements, is hardly an uplifting experience.
True, there are flashes of individuality – the quiet opening, for the violins alone, of Symphony No. 14; the harmonic adventurousness of the recapitulation in the opening movement of No. 12; or the written-out rallentando that links the Allegro and Andante of No. 10 – but they are few and far between. I have nothing but praise for the energy and enthusiasm with which The English Concert have thrown themselves into this project, and for the thorough musicianship of their playing; but those who want to hear the true voice of Mozart will have to wait for
Volume 2. Misha Donat