Mozart Grétry 1773
Grétry: Céphale et Procris – suite; Mozart: Symphony No. 25; Thamos, König in Ägypten – suite
Orkester Nord/Martin Wahlberg
Aparté AP293 65:09 mins
Allegro con brio is what Mozart asks for in the first movement of the Symphony, and that’s what you get, with the music speeding off the blocks like Usain Bolt. This has undoubted physical excitement, but detail in the upper strings is untidy and often obscured by the sheer weight and aggression of the brass. Tempo isn’t so much of an issue in the Andante, but the twiddly interventions of the piano are a distraction from the flow of the melody, as they are in the Minuet, where the trio is unnecessarily at half-speed. The finale is also fast, but more disciplined, better balanced and accords with Wåhlberg’s desire to ‘capture the vitality and emotion of this music.’
The dramatic style of playing is more suited to the incidental music to Thamos, and there’s some well-ornamented if sometimes precarious wind playing in the Andante. Coupled with the theatrical flair in the other movements, this shows orchestra and conductor at their best: the sudden surges in horns and timpani, a distraction in the symphony, are apt and thrilling here.
We know that Mozart studied scores by Grétry in Paris, and the same feeling for the stage runs through the suite from Céphale et Procris. The melodic invention may not match Mozart’s, but there’s a variety of character: and the dances have elegance or, in the ‘Danse infernale’, a real sense of malice.