This disc, well recorded in 1988, couples two late Mozart symphonies in performances of weight and power which more than match those with traditional modern instruments.
Gardiner, on this disc, defies expectations of period performances by taking a steady approach to basic tempi. Less surprisingly he observes all the repeats which greatly extend the playing lengths of the works and adds that sort of stature. Within those parameters he takes a notably dramatic line, especially with the Prague symphony by underlining the dramatic dynamic contrasts and taking every opportunity to maximise the percussive or cutting effects of the timpani and trumpets.
Gardiner, at that time, was also associated with the late Mozart operas and it seems as if the operatic stage dramas have migrated to these symphonic works. This is not an unlikely situation as it is quite clear when listening to extended sets of works such as the complete symphonies or piano concertos that Mozart really starts to sound like Mozart when his instrumental music becomes more vocal in character. That ties in exactly with his development as an operatic composer.
By using period instruments Gardener is able to ensure that all details can be heard easily, especially the important dialogues between woodwind and strings which so often become submerged when modern instruments are used.
These two performances are unusually weighty and dramatic in concept and are quite the match for similar approaches with modern instruments but with the additional clarity possible with period instruments.
I would suggest that if you are interested in such a view of Mozart in these two symphonies, then this is a very fine example to consider as a purchase. The playing and recording are both of a high order.
on 30 May 2014
We live in hope.
Wystan Hugh Auden harboured the ambition to coin a word that would be accepted into the canon by the Oxford English Dictionary. Alas, his creation - you can look it up - was far too topical and prurient to register with the guardians.
I am a lesser being than the great English poet. Nevertheless there is no reason why I cannot emulate his noble aspiration. I too have a word that I seek to mint: jeggy.
Now jeggy can be a verb, noun or adverb.
Let's start with the verb - to jeggify. It phonetics are pleasant enough. What does it mean? Here are some examples:
"The conductor jeggified Mozart's Prague and E Flat Symphonies." In context, it means (a) to bowdlerise these masterpieces by virtue of brisk efficiency. It can also mean (b) to repudiate metaphysics or overt reverence or (c) to miniaturise a symphonic utterance to the point where it resembles a divertimento.
Next comes the noun - jeggification. It can mean a state of (a) prim self-righteousness or (b) a dynamic where strong emotions are minimised or (c) jauntiness to the exclusion of profundity. So you want an example too? How about this?
"Sir John's jeggifcation of the slow movement of K 543 denuded it of its momento mori, much to the relief of the old buggers in the room."
Let's turn our attention to the adverb. Here is an example:
"The English Baroque Soloists played jeggily." Here, the word in question is a synonym for "scratchily".
What relevance my quest has to the recordings in scope is a mystery. Could they be the sonic equivalent of a pictogram? This is not implausible. It should come as no surprise that the booklet itself has been jeggified. And one could say much the same of Sir John as he glares out coldly at the listener from the two dimensional realm of the front-cover. Why, it could almost be Simla in 1910 and a waiter has just dropped Jeggy's - sorry, Sir John's gin and tonic to the ground. Caruthers - send this man back to the village!
We live in hope.