Mozart: Symphonies 40 and 41 (Pentatone)

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The conductor Hans von Bülow once described Mendelssohn’s music as ‘something to be got over in childhood, like measles’. I feel the same way about much of Mozart and listen to very little, making an exception now and then only when I have a particular purpose to study a piece – in this case, the Jupiter Symphony, Mozart’s last.

It so happened that a Pentatone CD with the NDR Radiophilharmonie landed just as I was reaching up the shelf for the unassailable Abbado/LSO on DG and its arrival proved more than just instructive. The Hannover radio orchestra, not always the most disciplined, have refined their manners under Andrew Manze, a musician versed in period practice and keen to span the gap between full-blooded music making and organic vegan.

Their Mozart style sits – as Neville Marriner did with the Academy of St Martin’s after Chris Hogwood huffed off to join the faddists – nicely inbetween the extremes. The entries are crisp as roasted kale and the tempi skip along at a pace that would have turned Karajan apoplectic. The Jupiter’s finale runs, molto allegro, right off the dial, hinting all the while at the unknowable. Manze imposes no personal theory or quirk. He just directs what is written, and at maximum precision and coherence. The ending comes, as it should, abruptly and with a sense of shock and deprivation. No-one ever leaves the Jupiter fulfilled. If this is going to be the Mozart of the 2020s, bring it on.

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About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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