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LABELS: Sony Classical
WORKS: Serenade No. 5, K204; Divertimento No. 10, K247
PERFORMER: Zurich Chamber Orchestra/ Roger Norrington
CATALOGUE NO: 88883793912


These two pieces may not represent Mozart at his most profound or original, but they are both supremely accomplished entertainments. The Serenade K204 is probably one of the works Mozart wrote for university end of term celebrations. It’s grandly scored, with horns and trumpets, plus a pair of flutes alternating with oboes: the Salzburg players he originally wrote for were obviously able to double on either instrument.

The music would have begun and ended with a march (not recorded here), as the players made their way to and from the place where it was being performed, and it also features a built-in violin concerto. Despite his crucial role, Sony has seen fit not to credit the accomplished soloist; but a footnote in tiny print in the CD booklet reveals that he is the leader of the Zürich Chamber Orchestra, Willi Zimmermann.

The more intimate Divertimento K247 is warmer and more sensuous (there’s a particularly striking moment of dark chromaticism at the mid-point of its opening movement), and it has a fine slow movement scored for strings alone. Roger Norrington draws stylish performances from his orchestra, though the small body of strings playing non-vibrato exposes a few moments of awkward intonation in the higher reaches of the violins. A nice touch in the minuets’ trios is the use of a solo string quartet for the subdued passages.

It’s good, too, to find Norrington less rigid than usual about including every single repeat – perhaps as a result of having to accommodate two substantial works on a single disc.


Misha Donat