MOZART 111 combines the best of the Austrian master's music with the best of Deutsche Grammophon's Mozart recordings, bringing together a total of 111 works, while retaining, as far as possible, the original album releases with their cover art. There's enough of everything here to stock a shop, as they say, in performances that have stood the test of time and performances that make you sit up and listen to Mozart afresh the perfect way to discover, rediscover and savor the incomparable genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
"Greer is a highly accomplished player of the natural horn… I find Greer's playing very musicianly: unusually graceful in the phrasing of the quick movements, with gentle, thoughtful playing in K417 and some lovely smooth and clear lines in K495, while the slow movements are all beautifully done—the Romance of K447 refined and graceful, that of K495 often truly poetic with happy details of timing. And there is no shortage of wit in the finales, or of high spirits. Greer improvises his cadenzas: in the first movement of K495 he does, rightly I think, simply a longish flourish, with no reference to the themes of the movement." (Stanley Sadie, Gramophone Magazine)
Walter Gieseking is joined by stellar wind players, including the great hornist Dennis Brain; and the Quintets have a gleaming, robust quality that make them irresistible. They were recorded in the mid- 1950s, a time when Gieseking sometimes operated on automatic pilot, but here he sounds involved and fluent; the keyboard part played with aristocratic grace and, where appropriate, sparkling high spirits. The filler is one of Herbert von Karajan's few successful Mozart recordings, aided immeasurably by the expert first-desk soloists of the Philharmonia.
The late 18th century was a transcription-heavy time, and it would seem that the substitution of a flute for the violin in Mozart's sonatas for violin and piano would be the most natural thing in the world. Yet it doesn't quite work out that way in this release by French flutist Patrick Gallois and Bulgarian pianist Maria Prinz. The music makes a perfectly pleasant impression; Gallois comes from a long line of French players whose tone alone is probably worth the purchase price, and he's got a lovely way with Mozart's melodies.
This pair of clarinet quintets from the revivified Sony Classical label presents a performer and a composer who have both been shaped by Jewish vernacular materials, and the combination delivers everything you hope it will. Osvaldo Golijov's Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind was composed 1994, before this Argentine composer entered a period of sustained popularity. Unlike his later riotously genre-crossing style, this one focuses on his own Jewish musical background.
The young Dutch violinist Noa Wildschut has been described as “a miracle of musicality”, while Anne-Sophie Mutter has singled her out as “undoubtedly one of the musical hopes of her generation”. For her debut as a Warner Classics recording artist, Noa has chosen a programme of Mozart that combines concertante and chamber works.
Involving, as it does, three master musicians and a fine chamber orchestra this was never likely to be be other than rewarding. It may not correspond with the ways of playing Mozart at the beginning of the twenty-first century which are fashionable at the beginning of the twenty-first century, but it has virtues – such as high intelligence, sympathy, certainty of purpose, grace, alertness of interplay – which transcend questions of performance practice. Looking at the names of the pianists above, we might be surprised by the presence of Sir Georg Solti, so used are we to thinking of him as a conductor. But the young Solti appeared in public as a pianist from the age of twelve and went on to study piano in Budapest, with Dohnányi and Bartok.
Loving performances caught in lovely sound, so what's not to love? Not, as it turns out, much, but not, regrettably, nothing at all. Jordi Savall, the gambist cum conductor who directs Le Concert Des Nations, is a genial, even affectionate leader who in these four light works of Mozart grants his players a considerable amount of interpretive freedom. Le Concert Des Nations, Savall's all-purpose classical and pre-classical chamber orchestra, responds with funny, even frothy, playing is as technically assured as it is brilliantly colorful. Alia Vox, Savall's label for everything he records from El Sabio to Monteverdi, catches the performances in a warm, natural, and deep acoustic of amazing vividness.