WORKS: Symphony No. 40; Symphony No. 41
PERFORMER: English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
CATALOGUE NO: 426 315-2 DDD
The accounts of these two symphonies by the English Baroque Soloists are among the more tumultuous and dramatic on record. The period instruments give the music extra bite and a darker tone than more conventional treatments. Snarling trumpets and thunderous kettledrums impart a rare ferocity to the Jupiter’s opening Allegro, while in the Finale there are moments when the strings hit with a verve that is wildly exciting.
So many conductors try to offer ‘solutions’ to the enigma of these symphonies. Here, the fire and commitment of the performances recharge the mystery. Repeats are observed, tempi sensibly urgent. The results are, I guess, as close as we’ve yet come to recording Mozart’s last two symphonic masterpieces as he would have heard them himself: as the latest, brilliant, gripping instalments of work in progress. Graham Taylor