Mozart In-between

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
LABELS: Sony Classical
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart In-between
WORKS: Symphony No. 23 in D, K181; Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat, K271 ‘Jeunehomme’; Thamos, König in Ägypten, K345; Mitridate, re di Ponto – Opera seria, K87
PERFORMER: Lawrence Zazzo (countertenor); L’Orchestre de Chambre de Geneve/David Greilsammer
CATALOGUE NO: 88725430252

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David Greilsammer calls his new CD ‘Mozart in-between’, and his intention, he explains, is to invite the listener to meet an unexpected side of the composer – ‘ambiguous, uncertain, overcome by fear and lost between distant worlds’. To this end, Greilsammer has dug up some little-known music, including two numbers from Mozart’s incidental music to the play Thamos, King of Egypt which are a real revelation: a full-blown symphonic movement in Mozart’s most agitated C minor manner, and an equally impressive Allegro vivace assai with which the fourth act ends ‘in general confusion’, as Leopold Mozart said. Both pieces are performed frenetically fast, and that confrontational style characterises Greilsammer’s disc as a whole. In the case of the miniature Symphony No. 23, he has even added his own busy timpani parts to increase the music’s excitement and noise-value. Typically, too, the CD ends with an aria from the early opera Mitridate (well sung by the countertenor Lawrence Zazzo) whose closing bars are startlingly abrupt and inconclusive.

Much more familiar is the great Jeunehomme Piano Concerto K271, but here Greilsammer’s choppy phrasing, inelegant embellishments and curious cadenzas, coupled with a closely recorded piano sound, make for a disconcerting listening experience. He has also commissioned a new piece, In-between, from the Swiss percussionist and composer Denis Schuler. It has no discernible connection with Mozart but it offers an intriguing soundworld of its own. All in all, a stimulating disc, though those of a nervous disposition should steer clear.

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Misha Donat