As with many of the audiophile reissues in the growing F.I.M. catalog, this 1963 Decca original recording is felt by CEO Winston Ma to be one of the very best productions in the entire history of recording. And he may be right. I must confess I had the London LP version some years ago and a few years ago replaced it with the improved Speakers Corner vinyl reissue, but evidently hadn’t really ever sat down to listen closely to it. I found the Sinfonia a revelation – with a more serious mood than most of the composer’s lighter concertos and divertimenti. Mozart was going thru an especially difficult time in his life when he wrote the work. The two solo voices of the violin on one side of the soundstage and the viola on the other are captivating and ramp up the excitement of hearing the work. The great Russian violinist David Oistrakh gave the stronger violin part to his son Igor and took the secondary viola part for himself. The same is true of the “filler” work, the Duo.
Sonic presentation is absolutely lovely, with the two string instruments a bit forward of the orchestra but not in your face as are some of the Heifetz violin concerto recordings. There’s never even a suggestion of “digititus” in the string tone. The orchestra is displayed in great width and depth. In the middle Andante movement is the most sorrowful-sounding music, though still communicated with the utmost grace and melody. The finale is half the length of the previous two movements and concludes things with a fast-moving and much more optimistic flavor.
Again, the care with which F.I.M. processed the original half-inch analog tapes, and the success of the perfectionistic xrcd mastering process, has resulted in an optical disc which I found perfectly identical to the Speakers Corner vinyl reissue played on my high-quality SOTA turntable system. The packaging is also distinctive and classy, with notes from the original album, which is reproduced for the “framed” front cover.
– John Sunier