Andrew Manze / NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

Mozart: Symphonies 40 & 41

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It's been some years since Andrew Manze expanded his range beyond Baroque music, but hints of his background in historical performance still surface. An excellent example is this live recording of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550, and Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551, with the thoroughly modern-instrument NDR Radiophilharmonie of Hannover. The most obvious manifestation is his observance of all marked repeats, a rather rare procedure even among the historical-performance hard core. Manze's strength is that he devises interpretations that go with the changes this brings. Sample the finale of the Symphony No. 41, where the usual emphasis on the mighty convergence of the counterpoint streams at the end is somewhat muted in favor of the tumultuous harmonic shifts of the development section. Having favored the brasses over the timpani in most places, Manze has room to deploy the drums here in a rocking and rolling collision of rhythms. In general, in keeping with a common mode of Baroque performance, his rhythmic accents are sharp, and his tempos are fast. In the last two movements of the Symphony No. 40, he whips up quite a level of excitement in the minuet and sustains it in the finale. The live performance adds to the momentum and immediacy without suffering any of the defects of live recordings; there is virtually no audience noise, and the applause is chopped off, yet you know there were people there. Highly recommended, and something new in the world of Mozart's symphonies, which is something that's not easy to do.

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