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David Threasher
Gramophone, January 2010

Eccentric and engaging Mozart from Fischer and his Danish forces

Having auditioned Vol 7 in Adam Fischer’s Mozart cycle (12/09), we know what to expect from him: characterful readings, sharp delineation of dynamics, occasional eccentricities, all presented with a rich string sound and first-class woodwind-playing. Fischer and his Danish forces now reach Vol 4, and a group of four symphonies from 1771 or thereabouts.

Mozart is often at his best in the slow movements of his symphonies of this period (remember he was 15 at the time of these works). His lyrical impulse provides the most memorable music, for example the C minor siciliano of K96 contrasting with the terse, brassy ceremony of the opening Allegro, or the chaste romanza of Symphony No 12, with its surprise appearance of obbligato bassoons, providing a counterweight to the galant bluster of the outer movements.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, November 2009

Maestro Adam Fischer appears on a mission to record all of Mozart’s symphonies, with this collection of four from 1770–71 being the fourth volume in the series. Fischer works well with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, a group just about the right compromise size for these pieces, considering that Mozart himself dealt with ensembles ranging from a handful of players to fifty or sixty at a time performing his symphonies. Fischer appears genuinely to love the music, and his glad tidings are infectious.

Mozart wrote the four works recorded here while he was in his mid teens, so they share a youthful vigor, a traditional four-movement arrangement, and, above all, brevity, the longest of the movements being about six minutes, the shortest less than two minutes. Things start with Symphony No. 12, all merry good cheer, with a momentary reflective repose in the middle. Then we get KV96, a bigger, bolder, and more bassy piece, or as the composer might have said, a more grandfatherly composition. The booklet note informs us that Mozart wrote all of these symphonies during and just after his performance trips to Italy, where he was probably influenced by the Italian fondness for bass at the time (double basses and violas, especially). This is particularly noticeable in KV96.

Symphony No. 13 displays a greater sense of wonder and adventure than the first two, but with the same high spirits and featuring an Andante that is most delightful and a closing Allegro that sounds as though it might have later inspired Mozart in his Horn Concertos.

Finally, from the very beginning of Symphony No. 14 we experience a sense of calm, calculated resolve, yet with a bouncy beat reminiscent of the composer’s Magic Flute of several decades later. There is also a more pronounced sense of size, space, and breadth present than in the earlier symphonies, projecting a more ambitious design. Nevertheless, the music remains decidedly playful and generally amusing.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2009

We are in year 1771 and the fifteen-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was writing four symphonies all in the style of early Haydn. I have already reviewed volume seven of this ongoing series of the complete symphonies [6.220542] and there we had reached his first major score in the genre. Now we go back to the fourth volume where the works are quite short and composed to a set pattern. There is the addition of the C major, KV96, a score never included in the official numbering, but was a product of its time. The Hungarian-born conductor, Adam Fischer, produces translucent and nicely paced performances, outer movements imbued with a virile strength with much use of horns, the Thirteenth’s finale using them to inject surprise. Dynamics are nicely graded, inner details pointed without exaggeration, and his Danish orchestra respond with a good sense of period style, the string playing warm and with impeccable intonation. In sum they are outstanding performances to stand beside the Naxos recording from the lightweight Northern Chamber Orchestra. Those looking for the most recent sound will be highly impressed with the Dacapo recording team, the disc a dual purpose release for those who have an SACD Player.

David Hurwitz, November 2009

These are excellent performances of early Mozart: vibrant, energetic, elegantly conducted, and immaculately played. Adam Fischer manages to have the best of both worlds: a period-influenced approach to performance practice combined with the attractive timbres of modern instruments. Best of all, there’s no continuo harpsichord to ruin Mozart’s finely-judged instrumental colors—the flutes in the slow movement of Symphony No. 12, or the regal pomp of trumpets and drums in the Symphony in C…if you’re looking for some top-notch early Mozart symphonies in terrific sound, make this series a priority.

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, October 2009

In Mozart Symphonies, Vol. 7 Adam Fischer continues a fine series with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra in Symphonies Nos. 22, 23, 24, 25 and 27. The sound in this hybrid multichannel SACD is bright and bold, complimenting the performances, The latter are always robust, if not always subtle or finely detailed, and feature a solid bass line thanks to the strong playing of the cellos and basses. In addition, the stirring participation from the tympani makes me suspect it may be modeled on an authentic instrument of the period.

Here we have the seventeen year old Mozart, already supremely accomplished in the composer’s art and confident of his prowess, writing works that show the genre as it was in the early 1770’s, at the exciting moment when the symphony itself was about to emerge from its traditionally subservient role as the curtain raiser for a concert and become its very centerpiece.

The brisk performances of Symphonies 22 thru 24 and 27 point up their taught three-movement structure, typically consisting of an opening Allegro, an Andante (sometimes marked grazioso and always quicker than a true slow movement) and a very fast concluding Presto.

Of particular interest here is Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K183, in four contrasted movements and clearly representing an advance for the young composer. The urgency and high drama of the opening Allegro con bio immediately sets this symphony apart from its companions on this program. This is opera Seri with a suggestion of tragedy, transferred to the symphonic medium. The Allegro finale, and even the Minuet, seem to partake of its undeniably somber shading. Only the tender Andante in E Major with muted violins and its radiant Trio in G Major for wind instruments only pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns provides a welcome respite from the prevailing tenseness of this, Mozart’s first symphonic masterpiece.

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