David Owen Norris / Caroline Balding / Katy Bircher / Andrew Skidmore

The Jupiter Project: Mozart, Hummel, Cramer, Clementi

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Prior to the recording era, it was only a small slice of the population that could hear orchestral works as they were written, and even if you were one of the lucky ones and had a hankering to rehear something, you had to turn to chamber arrangements. Such arrangements form an important part of the reception histories of major works. They've been recorded from time to time but intelligent treatments like this one, by a chamber group headed by pianist David Owen Norris, are rare, and listeners will be delighted here. The arrangements are all from London. Norris does well to focus on a single composer, Mozart, for in this way, you can readily hear the various ways the arrangers went about their tasks. The real find here is the arrangement by Muzio Clementi of the Mozart Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551 ("Jupiter") (it was from this milieu that the symphony acquired this nickname). He uses the same piano-flute-violin-cello quartet as the other arrangers, but Clementi was a talented pianist, and he puts the piano front and center; the other instruments largely take up consequent phrases. He does his job well. You might expect that the contrapuntal finale of this symphony would lose the most of everything here, but it's thrilling (sample this). You also get two opera overtures arranged by Hummel, and the Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, arranged by Johann Baptist Cramer, who has to make the piano solo parts stand out from its accompaniment in the tutti (of course, there was an earlier tradition of playing concertos this way). The balance among the instruments is good, both from the players and from Hyperion's engineers, and overall this is a release that's both historically useful and highly listenable.

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