Mozart, Strauss: Symphony No. 36 in C (Linz)

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COMPOSERS: Mozart,Strauss
WORKS: Symphony No. 36 in C (Linz)
PERFORMER: LSO/John Barbirolli
This tribute to one of the best loved of conductors is a concert recorded in the Royal Festival Hall in 1969 and it springs to life almost as vividly as it must have on the day. At the same time, it proves the extent to which performance styles have altered in the intervening three decades. This Linz Symphony is likely to be considered desperately unfashionable now, with its leisurely tempi, its full tone and grandly dramatic gestures. It succeeds, however, in conjuring up a Don Giovanni-like spirit immediately, carrying a solidity and conviction that today’s anorexic performances often lack – Mae West rather than Kate Moss, and with all the associated sparkle. The Strauss is glorious from start to finish: Barbirolli’s hero is a romantic, noble spirit, while his whimsical ‘companion’ is presented with delicacy and wit by John Georgiadis’s violin solo. The LSO’s string section responds with lush tone and beautifully applied portamenti. The battle is hair-raising, the trumpets wonderfully sardonic and threatening. The performance as a whole sweeps along with the momentum and scale of conception of a great epic novel. It’s live recording at its finest, and the rapturous audience response at the end is all part of it. Jessica Duchen