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CD Review

Wolfgang Mozart

  • Symphony #29, K. 201
  • Kassation, K. 63
  • Divertimento, K. 251
European Union Chamber Orchestra/Hans-Peter Hofmann
Barn Cottage Records BCR011
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If anyone has read my previous reviews, they will know how much I admire Barn Cottage Records. Take some great young artists, mix well known and unusual repertoire, and present it attractively and affordably. If that isn't a recipe for success in today's classical market, I don't know what is. Each one of the discs that I have heard on the label has been a treat. This exceptionally fine Mozart disc proudly joins that company and deserves to be heard by all who love this music.

The Symphony #29 is not a work listeners likely collect, but it's a very fine and engaging piece all the same. This rendition by the European Union Chamber Orchestra (EUCO) easily becomes my favorite. Too often, Mozart is played to sound pretty. Here, the EUCO digs in and romps through the piece with a clear sense of excitement. Using a period sound, the orchestra never turns ugly, offering as cogent a rendition of this work as we are likely to hear. It's really fun to hear such a wonderfully phrased first movement, with dashing strings and attractive horns. The andante is lovely, sweetly singing, and carefully shaped. Attention to dynamics and intonation is exemplary, and the winds are great here. A fairly danceable minuet proves a highlight, the playing extremely fine. There's drama here, with burnished brass and sharply accented strings painting a musical picture of the composers' full and often overlooked emotional range. It's all topped off with a terrific finale that impresses with its driving energy and virtuosity.

As for the Kassation and Divertimento, they too are wonderful. The EUCO treats these lesser works with the same care they treat the symphony, making the program so impressive overall as to defy criticism. Both here and in the symphony, the genuine attention to detail brings out the genius of Mozart's music as very few chamber orchestra recordings have to date. Nothing ever drags; the energy of the program is impressively maintained and the playing is never less than excellent. Warm, spacious sound adds to an unquestionably desirable Mozart disc. Robin Bigwood, a very fine musician in his own right, has produced a CD that I suspect will provide you with many hours of enjoyment.

Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman