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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

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on 26 May 2013
Bought in January 2013 and have not quite finished all the symphonies, but am far enough through to say that this is a great compilation and gives a good view of how Mozart's musicality changed over the course of his life and between pieces.

I'm listening to #24 and #25 at the moment and the difference between the two is amazing, particularly as they were written in the same week (October 1773, when he was just 17). #24 is light and insubstantial, coming in at less than 10 minutes; #25 altogether more weighty and complex - one can see its influence in later symphonies.

The Pinnock recording is bright and well produced - I don't have another collection of symphonies to compare it to. I bought this as the price (£23 at the time) and the rave reviews recommended it - and I'm delighted with the purchase. It comes in a small box with each CD in a slip case - hard to get in and out, so I'd recommend transfer to something easier if you are going to listen to it often. There is also a great booklet which helps to put each work into context.

Highly recommended, particularly if Amazon keeps the price down!
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on 31 July 2004
One of the main advantages that period performances hold over those on modern instruments is that they allow one to more clearly hear the articulation of and between the various instruments. In modern instrument performances of Mozart's orchestral compositions, edges tend to be blurred and this detracts from the exquisite musical arguments contained within each piece. This is not so much a problem with performances of Mozart's chamber music however, as there are fewer instruments to crowd the scene, and each musician retains greater control over the sustainment of each note.
Unquestionably, these 'period' performances by Trevor Pinnock are the best renditions I have heard of Mozart's symphonies. They have all the benefits of crisp articulation and yet they retain all of the drama you would expect to experience in a modern instrument recording. An excellent set in every way!
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on 30 January 2003
This rendition of Mozart's symphonies is absolutely wonderful. It gives the sense of warmth and personality that seems to be missing from many of the bigger, "modern" orchestras, (not to say that they don't have their own advantages to the modern ear). These recordings have a buttery, warm sound that sounds more like it is being played in an old castle chamber than a cold, airy concert hall. While the acoustics are sort of muted, they still remain crisp and clear. The English Concert Orchestra under Pinnock is known for its excellence, and here they have not let us down. Anyone who has more than a passing interest in classical music will not regret buying this set.
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on 8 February 2011
Radio 3's recent Mozart season played some early symphonies, and they used Pinnock's versions. I was quite amazed by how good they were, having been misled by 'certain critics' into believing that only 40/41 and perhaps a few other later symphonies were worth listening to. On the strength of what I heard on Radio 3, and glowing reviews by Gramophone and 'Third Ear', I decided to obtain this set. No regrets - *all* of them were worth a listen, 11 of them make it onto my "top notch Mozart" list, with another 14 on my "listen to as often as anything else list". I have versions of 40/41 by Marriner and Bernstein, both of which I rate highly - and they generally get the nod from the 'modern/big-band' faction of Mozart critics. But I like Pinnocks at least as much. His andante in 41, and overall treatment of the symphony, is something special. Even if you have several modern/big-band versions of Mozart symphonies, this set is well worth having, you are likely to discover some new joy - even in symphonies you already have.
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This set of the complete Mozart symphonies has been compiled into a box at an amazingly low price. If that alone were not enough, and it isn't of course, the quality of Pinnock's interpretive concept, the execution of that concept by his orchestra and finally the recording and presentation of the set are of such quality as to make this an absolute 'must buy' for anyone even remotely interested in Mozart's symphonies.

Like most enthusiastic collectors I have owned considerable versions of all the 'mature' symphonies as interpreted by recognised experts in the field. Currently these include Mackerras (I have retained the last of his 3 surveys as his best), Gardiner, Barenboim, Bruggen, Britten and Jane Glover. There have been many others previously but none of them, except Koopman, have seriously represented the previous works written in his extreme youth.

Suddenly this set was released and made available at a very special price. I pounced! Immediately I was entranced by the sheer wealth of imagination, the sheer ability to organise coherent musical thought and to write it so fluently for orchestra, the sheer labour of simply writing so many notes, let alone think them up. If ever a set underlined Mozart's remarkable genius which flowered from such an early age this has to be it.

The key moment for Mozart as regards the transition from his earlier work, which is completely enjoyable while not sounding like Mozart particularly, occurs around about 1775. At this point he left Salzburg for Vienna where he began to work as a freelance composer. Crucially, in my opinion, at this point he started writing operas such as Il Re Pastore which demanded a vocal style of writing. Up to now his writing had been instrumental in style. From this point Mozart's instrumental writing in every form including piano concertos (5 onwards), symphonies (25 then 29 onwards)and chamber music now becomes essentially vocal in inspiration and recognisably the Mozart melodic line and style that we know well.

As regards the choice between 'traditional' and 'period' performances, the situation has changed markedly over the last twenty years or so. Gone are the problems of tuning which afflicted the woodwind especially. Also gone is the frequently acerbic string textures. Also gone is the mistaken idea that conductors could be little more than time beaters and that all speeds had to be fast with little inflection of phrasing. What is retained is the correct balance between strings and woodwind where the latter are more equal partners. This allows the dialogue between the instruments that Mozart wrote to be much more easily heard and followed. In addition, there is much more emphasis on more expressive phrasing these days and less on breakneck speeds while still retaining liveliness. Crucially, conductors have reverted to the idea of providing an interpretation.

Consequently the performances throughout this set are totally sympathetic and the skill of the players is such that every detail is able to shine through in a way which would completely elude any orchestra made up of modern instruments. This is so obviously the sound that Mozart was writing and for all the reasons described in the previous paragraph. Believing is in hearing. Speeds are brisk without undue hurry thus an easy exhilaration is regularly achieved. Slow movements flow rather than stagnate. Minuets dance rather than plod.

One could go on .... but suffice it to suggest that both Pinnock and his orchestra have been inspired to deliver a set truly capable of illustrating both the advantage, and even the need, to experience these mostly fine, and always astonishing early works. They provide a valuable extension to one's understanding and appreciation of the later mature works (25, then 29 onwards). Needless to say, the later symphonies are treated just as well as the earlier ones and would stand comparison with any alternative versions currently available.

I would suggest that if one were to restrict one's purchases of Mozart symphonies to just one set, then this should be most seriously considered. The inclusion of all the earlier works is a bonus that I, for one, would not be without and this is something I have learnt since owning this set. Owning just the late mature works is to miss out on a remarkable and rewarding extension to appreciating the genius that was Mozart.
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on 14 December 2015
Enjoyable,lively performances from Pinnock and co.4 stars only,due to the good,but never great,earlier works.A genius has to start somewhere,and although I find no complaints with anything here,the inspiration of the younger Mozart,astonishing as it may be,falls short of that of the adult.But for the collector wishing a box set,on period instruments,there is little to cavil about here.Heartily recommended!
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on 8 December 2004
All I can say is, as a professional musician, it is refresing to hear Mozart sounding right. No vibrato, brisker tempi, even the flutes a touch on the flat side, make this sound perfect. You can hear everything in the score, especially in the later works. Also, the balance of a great number of celli and bassi than most conductors would use, just make the recordings sound 'correct'.
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on 7 January 2007
Mozart wrote 75+ symphonies in all, and although this set is not comprehensive (the Hogwood set makes the best attempt at that), the works here should satisfy most people. At the risk of being controversial, a lot of Mozart's early symphonies are not top-notch (unlike his early choral music, say), and these works sound considerably better played with a raw edge than with a comfortably uphostered modern orchestra (e.g. Bohm), when the modern textures trivialise the music. The later symphonies also benefit from the leaner sound (the slow movement of K543 can easily sound syrupy on modern strings). Pinnock plays all the works with affection and care, and the separated violins, many repeats and clear textures make these performances ones that anyone can enjoy. Even the desperately uninspired 'Paris' (K297/300a) sounds good here.
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on 19 September 2013
These recordings bring joy back to Mozart's symphonies, but with no lack of profundity. Pinnock is sometimes slightly iconoclastic in his phrasing (although the extreme subtlety of his rhythmic inflections is something to be wondered at as well), but it is never less than interesting, even to those of us somewhat jaded by repetition of (in particular) the last three symphonies. The collection is slightly less "comprehensive" than Hogwood's set (only one version of the "40th", for example), but I find it much more enjoyable.

The edition from Canada, if you can find it, is very cheap but still has the comprehensive booklet notes; it is, however, in a flimsy box.
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on 13 November 2015
For years I have been searching for Mozart symphonies on period instruments and at last I have found one that meets all the challenges. Too often (without naming names) period performances are marred by the eccentric mannerisms of the conductor: this is straight Mozart, recorded with a clarity that brings new life to each symphony, allowing you to hear all the instrumentation that Mozart wrote. There is an excellent booklet with full details of who is playing what. I originally jibbed at this album because it includes all the early symphonies which are little more than a child's exercises but the Salzburg symphonies are more rewarding and some of them were knew to me. All praise to Trevor Pinnock for showing so complete and mercifully modest an understanding of this great composer.
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