Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphonies Nos. 35-41 – Berliner Philharmoniker, Karl Bohm (1995/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:26:46 minutes | 2.84 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: prestoclassical.co.uk | © Deutsche Grammophon
Recorded: (#36, 39) February 1966, (#35, 38) October 1959, (#40) December 1961, (#41) March 1962 at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany
These performances come from the first ever complete set of the Mozart symphonies, dating from the 1960s, and they still represent ‘big orchestra’ Mozart at its most congenial. The contrast here between Bohm’s sparkling Mozart, both elegant and vigorous, and the much smoother view taken by Karajan with the same orchestra, works almost entirely in Bohm’s favour. Interpretatively, these are performances very much of their time, with exposition repeats the exception (as in the first movement of No. 40) and with Minuets taken at what now seem lumbering speeds. Yet slow movements flow easily, and finales bounce along infectiously. Consistently they convey the happy ease of Bohm in Mozart, even if the recording is beefy by today’s standards, not as transparent as one now expects in this repertory, whether on modern or period instruments.
There is some inconsistency between the different recordings, all made in the Jesus-Christus Kirche in Berlin between 1959 and 1966. The best sound comes from the sessions in 1966 for the Linz and No. 39 – satisfyingly full with no edginess on violins – and the least good from 1959 for the Prague, where high violins sound rather fizzy. Yet the very precision of the CD transfers encourages one to highlight such points. In practice most collectors will find the sound more than acceptable enough in all six symphonies to convey the warmth of Bohm in Mozart without distraction. Peter Cosse contributes an informative note on Bohm, rightly bringing out his ”natural, unforced approach to Mozart”, but much of the booklet is given over to advertising the other issues in The Originals series. After all, what harm is there in encouraging nostalgia by making the CDs look like vintage LPs and by reproducing the original sleeve designs? –Edward Greenfield, Gramophone