Mstation Classical Reviews

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Mon, 02 Oct 2006


Joseph Haydn, symphonies 68, 93 - 104
Royal Concertbouw Orchestra
Nikolas Harnoncourt
5 CD's, Warner Classics

Nikolas Harnoncourt became the heir to big draw conductors like von Karajan but as the quote below shows with a quite different attitude.

"For me," says Harnoncourt, "to play together and in equal pitch is not a goal. For me, the rehearsal starts with the content of a piece - what it means, how it can change the listener. I was an orchestral musician for 17 years and what I missed was the question 'why?'. I wanted to know why Bruno Walter asked me to play like this . . . In those days, musicians were slaves, but my musicians are partners and they have to know about the conception. This is my way of working." (1)
and ...
"They used to order a musician to play his part alone," he relates, "and I have never seen anything less than terror when this happened. Two players, friends of mine, suffered a complete nervous breakdown and were dragged away to mental hospitals for electric-shock therapy. I know how dangerous it is to work with musicians. I would never be the cause of anything like that." (1)

And so we have 5 discs here of sympathetically played Haydn from a very good orchestra - avery pleasant few hours, all in all. (Baron K)

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Mutter Mozart

Mozart, The violin sonatas
Anne-Sophie Mutter
Lambert Orkis
4 CD's, Deutsche Grammophon

This "Deluxe Limited Edition" is the grand finale of Anne-Sophie Mutter's Mozart Trilogy and comprises 4 CD's of her playing wonderful violin along with Lambert Orkis on piano. It was recorded in Munich in February of this year (06) and so is a new statement rather than yet another remastering from the vaults.

In addition to this year being the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth (as you no doubt already know) it is also the 10th anniversary of Anne-Sophie Mutter's debut. She was picked out by Von Karajan when she was 13 and has hardly looked back since. Treated like royalty in Germany and the USA, she does get some grumpiness in England because of her high fee demands and some doubtfulness about her ability to fill seats in that place.

There is no doubting her ability to fill seats in other places and not much doubting of her ability either. Whether the style is exactly to your taste is another question but it is a style of today and it does have cool beauty. I would think Mozart violin sonata fans would want this. (Baron K)

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British Light Classics

The British Light Music Classic Series
The New London Orchestra
Ronald Corp
4 CD's, Hyperion

"77 tracks of golden nostalgia on 4 compact discs". The accent here is actually mostly on themes such as The Archers, Dr. Findlay's Casebook (Och, Dr. Cameron!), Desert Island Discs, and the like rather than the usual pleasant Victoriana. It is pleasant too and the object of bringing together a collection of tunes that might make listeners hark back to a more pleasant Britain is readily achieved.

British Light Classics
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Barry Wordsworth
2 CD's, Warner Classics

This is a very similar collection to the one above except, as you can see, there are 2 CD's in the box instead of four. In this case though, you get a free download from Warner's website of one more similar track for your iPod or whatever.

Both of these collections are nicely performed so it will boil down to whether you want more or less. (Baron K)

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