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Penguin Guide, January 2009

MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 25, 32 and 41 8.550113
MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 36, 33 and 27 8.550264
MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 40, 28 and 31 8.550164
MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 29, 30 and 38 8.550119
MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 34, 35 and 39 8.550186
MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 40 and 41 8.550299

The Capella Istropolitana consists of leading members of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra of Bratislava; though their string-tone is thinnish, it is very much in scale with the clarity of a period performance but tonally far sweeter. The recording is outstandingly good, with a far keener sense of presence than in most rival versions and with less reverberation to obscure detail in tuttis. Wordsworth observes exposition repeats in first movements, but in the finales only in such symphonies as Nos. 38 and 41, where the movement particularly needs extra scale. In slow movements, as is usual, he omits repeats. He often adopts speeds that are marginally slower than we expect nowadays in chamber-scale performances; but, with exceptionally clean articulation and infectiously sprung rhythms, the results never drag even if No. 29 is made to sound more sober than usual. In every way these are worthy rivals to the best full-priced versions, and they can be recommended with few if any reservations. Anyone wanting to sample might try the coupling of Nos. 34, 35 and 39—with the hard-stick timpani sound at the start of No. 39 very dramatic. The Linz too is outstanding. For some, the option of having the last two symphonies coupled together will be useful.

BBC Radio 3, March 1991

"Bright, alert playing from the Capella Istropolitana under Barry Wordsworth, a conductor who I find has a real gift for conveying on record the tensions of live performance. ... With exceptionally clear articulation and sprung rhythms, combined with sharp contrasts of dynamic, the result's both strong and elegant. ... with textures clean as in a period performance. ... The sound sharply focussed. I love the way the wind instruments, the horns in particular, stand out in bold contrast. ... The digital recording has exceptional presence and immediacy. ... It's my clear first choice among the mid-price and budget versions, well worth anyone's money."

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