James Lockhart / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Mozart: Magic Flute Overture; Symphonies Nos. 36 & 39

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This Royal Philharmonic Masterworks Audiophile Collection disc features the RPO under the baton of James Lockhart in a selection of later Mozart works. The program begins with the overture to The Magic Flute, Mozart's final opera. Despite the large orchestra used in the performance, this track still manages to maintain a sense of lightness, spryness, and crisply executed articulations. The program continues with Symphony No. 36 in C major, the so-called "Linz" symphony. Always the subtle innovator, the slow movement of this symphony includes the rare trumpet and percussion. But even with this potentially weighty instrumental scoring, Lockhart maintains a feeling of a much smaller orchestra performing. This changes by the symphony's Presto finale; here, Lockhart's choice of tempo is more reserved, less energetic. The lower end of the orchestra -- particularly the basses and timpani -- become too dominant and overbearing, diminishing the same lightness and clarity heard earlier in the album. This same heaviness is carried through the first three movements of the Symphony No. 39 in E flat major. Not until the Allegro Finale does the RPO return to more desirable, delicate, agile sound heard in the beginning. The album's cover entices listeners with the claim that they will hear music "…performed with a rarely heard abandon…." This is certainly an overstatement as Lockhart's interpretations are hardly the most energetic to be found, and the uneven balance heard from movement to movement further diminishes the desirability of this disc.

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