Mozart: Symphonies 39, 40, 41 - Ensemble Resonanz / Riccardo Minasi. © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas

CD Spotlight

Great Character

LUCAS BALL listens to Riccardo Minasi's
interpretations of late Mozart symphonies

'Minasi's control is great here.'

 

When Mozart enthusiasts say that he never makes an ugly gesture in any work, these symphonies demonstrate why they might think that. Mozart's grasp of first Viennese School classical symphonic form gives the listeners pleasure and recordings milk that pleasure.

In this CD recording of Symphonies Nos 39-41, ends of phrases seem to be treated with utmost care in second movements, and this gives the music further character. Strident passages are contrasted with lighter, humorous ones in the reading of Symphony No 39 in E flat, conductor Riccardo Minasi drawing out this Mozartian character from all sections of the Ensemble Resonanz. In the development section, constant changes in dynamics also add to the character.

Listen — Mozart: Adagio - Allegro (Symphony No 39, K 543)
(CD1 track 1, 6:30-7:26) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

Minasi's control is great here. Dotted rhythms in the second movement are, as far as I could tell, as tight as they need to be and there is shape in the phrases.

Listen — Mozart: Andante con moto (Symphony No 39, K 543)
(CD1 track 2, 0:01-0:43) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

The same level of care is taken in the third and fourth movements of Symphony No 39. Moments of silence in the last (fourth) movement are special because they further add character.

Listen — Mozart: Finale (Symphony No 39, K 543)
(CD1 track 4, 3:00-3:14) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

Symphony No 40 in G minor is maybe a hackneyed work, but Riccardo Minasi brings out its character so that, if we are not blinkered by the fact that it is well-known, we may experience its freshness. Dynamic contrasts and symmetry in phrasing again add to its character.

Minasi gives a striking ritenuto midway into the first movement which I was not sure about. After this ritenuto, the tempo returns to what it was before.

Listen — Mozart: Molto allegro (Symphony No 40, K 550)
(CD1 track 5, 2:06-3:02) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

The second movement delivery has great care and respect in the treatment of the ends of imitative phrases as well as shape in the phrases overall.

Moments of surprise are a delight again and Mozart's instructions on the score are followed.

Listen — Mozart: Andante (Symphony No 40, K 550)
(CD1 track 6, 5:04-5:51) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

The hemiola feel in the third movement is great.

Listen — Mozart: Menuetto (Symphony No 40, K 550)
(CD1 track 7, 0:01-0:53) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

The treatment of the last movement is again very characterful with great control over the fastest runs in strings with precision and attentiveness towards dynamics.

Listen — Mozart: Allegro assai (Symphony No 40, K 550)
(CD1 track 8, 0:19-1:09) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

In the first movement of the Jupiter Symphony (No 41 in C major) for some reason unknown to me, Riccardo Minasi changes tempo at the opening. Unfortunately, I don't think this works. The delivery of the softer intermittent phrases make the music feel like the end of the movement.

Listen — Mozart: Allegro vivace (Symphony No 41, K 551)
(CD2 track 1, 0:01-0:47) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

The close of the movement also starts to feel like a stringendo.

Listen — Mozart: Allegro vivace (Symphony No 41, K 551)
(CD2 track 1, 10:53-11:33) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

If there is a particular philosophy behind this idea, I would love to know what it is. I could not find it in the booklet that came with the CD.

In the second movement, there is the usual treatment of phrasing with care and shape of phrases.

I like the strident gestures in the third movement Menuetto, but there is uncalled-for tempo rubato in the Trio. Again, I am not comfortable with this.

Listen — Mozart: Trio (Symphony No 41, K 551)
(CD2 track 3, 2:16-3:15) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

In the fourth movement, I loved the strident passages with dotted rhythms and the imitative passages as well.

Listen — Mozart: Molto allegro (Symphony No 41, K 551)
(CD2 track 4, 0:07-1:04) © 2020 harmonia mundi musique sas :

This too has great character in this reading and crucially no uncalled-for or inappropriate intermittent slowing down.

Copyright © 22 May 2020 Lucas Ball,
Worcestershire UK

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CD INFORMATION: MOZART SYMPHONIES 39, 40, 41 - ENSEMBLE RESONANZ

FURTHER INFORMATION: WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART

FURTHER INFORMATION: HARMONIA MUNDI

 

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