Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - The Early Symphonies, Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields, Neville Marriner (Philips - 6769 054)

There can not be much to be said about a historical figure as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He is the pinnacle of talent in all understanding. Playing violin at three, mastering it at five, playing whole symphonies from memory again at five and composing his first symphony at nine years old. Boy that takes a beating.

Being the son of a talented violinist, and small brother of another talented sister, Mozart was already excessively lucky. However it was his extra ordinary intelligence linked with extra ordinary talent that made him as he is. Even all the financial and health problems did not stop him from creating 626 works (Not all finished) during a life span of 35 years. It is absolutely remarkable. He was cocky which is not at all surprising since he toured Europe twice before he was ten years old. He was known as the child prodigee and he filled this term to the utmost extent.

This box set includes the early symphonies of Mozart. The box set holds 8 records which cover his first symphonies which he composed between 1764 and 1775. They are not his finest works, but they are clearly the building steps of the legendary last three symphonies he composed. They are also important in understanding how Mozart developed himself musically as well as technically.

The earliest of the symphonies Mozart has composed show a clear style of Italian influence. He has composed these symphonies, that is ok, but they are not really Mozart. The reason I'm saying this is that he was closed up within the boundaries of the Italian style three part symphonies. This was largely due to his affection to the London Bach or formally known as Johann Christian Bach. Moreover, as time passed by and his residence in Salzburg took it's toll, he started experimenting in combining the Viennese style with the Italian style until he finally built his own potion of adorable music.

There are certain aspects of Mozart's symphonic compositions which appear even from the start. The most evident of them is the use of repetitions and loops for violins. He started using them for effect and later on mastered the technique of symphony composition where he supported these effects with other instruments in order to create an effective, yet harmonious, soulful yet hyptonizing music. This is where Mozart departs from his predecessor by 15 years, Beethoven.

Even though the performance of Academy Of St Martin In The Fields and Sir Neville Marriner is exceptional, there are some setbacks regarding the box set. The biggest setback is the listing of the symphonies. In a box set of this kind, chronological listing is very significant and Philips has made a huge mistake here by not doing it. It would have been much more informational and explanatory for the listener. Now I have to move back and forth among the records to create the chronology myself which is just a waste of time, energ and concentration.

The second setback is the famous missing symphony which was discovered in late 1970s which Mozart composed in London. It would have been miracoulous if Neville Marriner could have added that to the 31 symphonies/symphonic works that appear in this boxset. However, there were and there will be (Maybe not) recordings of the early symphonies of Mozart and it will be immensely hard to surpass the musical expression that Neville Marriner has achieved throughout. I've listened the performance of Karl Böhm and even though it is also very good in many aspects, it does not match the promptness and liveliness of Marriner's. I am yet to listen the extensive performance of Jaap Schröder, but from what I've heard and read, that one is also a couple of pars below this one.

Luckily (Or rather naturally) I own the consecutive box set that follows this one in which Neville Marriner performs the late symphonies of Mozart. That box set will some time be reviewed here when I again have the extended time to listen all those records in a row. Until then this box set will be a pleasure to savour.

To buy this box set:

@ Ebay (Check for the Box Set particularly)

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