MOZART: Symphonies, vol. 6, No. 19 in E-flat, No. 20 in D, No. 21 in A, No. 26 in E-flat – Danish Radio Sinfonietta/ Adam Fischer – DaCapo

by | Jan 12, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Symphonies, vol. 6, No. 19 in E-flat, No. 20 in D, No. 21 in A, No. 26 in E-flat – Danish Radio Sinfonietta/ Adam Fischer – DaCapo multichannel SACD 6.220541, 67:55 ***:

By all appearances, this, though labeled “volume six”, is the second volume of a complete set of Mozart symphonies by the ever-ambitious Adam Fischer, previously known for, among other things, his complete Haydn symphony set on Nimbus records. This time around DaCapo is seeing to it that these gems are put on SACD, so this marks the first time to my knowledge that a complete set will be issued in that enlightened format.

But there are some other issues. These symphonies, not among the best-known of Mozart’s with the possible exception of No. 26, are nonetheless sparkling examples of the young man’s art, and are true treasures once you get to know them. They were written in the years 1772-73 when he was only 16 years old, and are as mature as the works of other lesser lights during that age twice his years. His progress is detectable in every work, as his experimentation with varied orchestration, evidenced here particularly in No. 20, with its play of trumpets and horns. Fischer makes good use of this dynamic, and his interpretations explode off the page, energetic without destructive turbulence, and a fine sense of melodic line. The Danish forces play very well, though there are some passages of questionable intonation and unanimity of ensemble. All you need to do is compare any one of these pieces with their cousins played by the Concertgebouw under Joseph Krips (Philips) to see what is missing. The RCO plays with an unequalled sheen to its string sound, and Krips is a master at pacing Mozart, no matter what the piece. His ensemble is far and away just about the best on disc in these symphonies, and when you also notice the enlightened decision to split the first and second strings, his old set becomes suddenly modern.

I did not expect Fischer to compete with them, and he really cannot, as the sound there is outstanding in every way even without Super Audio, and the recording venue is sans the rather extreme echo in this recording, something I think DaCapo should re-examine before proceeding with this series. It is easily as blatant as the echo was on the Nimbus Haydn set, and to most critics that was distracting to a degree. [Decoding those Ambisonic CDs with Dolby ProLogic II surround or any matrix surround technique corrects that…Ed.]  DaCapo does make good use of the discrete surround, and I am happy that Fischer is attempting these as he is a superb conductor with a lot to say in this music, but SACD alone will not sell it. This issue might cause you to replace almost any other discs of these symphonies except the Krips, but it will be interesting to chart the progress of this series. Bravo to DaCapo for having the guts to try it.

— Steven Ritter 

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