Loving performances caught in lovely sound, so what's not to love? Not, as it turns out, much, but not, regrettably, nothing at all. Jordi Savall, the gambist cum conductor who directs Le Concert Des Nations, is a genial, even affectionate leader who in these four light works of Mozart grants his players a considerable amount of interpretive freedom. Le Concert Des Nations, Savall's all-purpose classical and pre-classical chamber orchestra, responds with funny, even frothy, playing is as technically assured as it is brilliantly colorful. Alia Vox, Savall's label for everything he records from El Sabio to Monteverdi, catches the performances in a warm, natural, and deep acoustic of amazing vividness.
So what's not love? Not much, as it turns out, but there are a couple of things. First, it might be asserted that Savall allows timpanist Pedro Estevan too much latitude in the Serenata Notturna -- don't his paradiddles seem a shade too flamboyant? -- and hornists Thomas Müller and Javier Bonet-Manrique too much longitude in Ein musikalischer Spass -- doesn't their purposefully out-of-tune playing seem a bit too painfully out-of-tune? Second, Savall has developed an unfortunate habit of delaying the downbeat and rushing the upbeat when directing an attack, and while a bit of tempo rubato never hurt, doing the same thing over and over again does come to seem a tad hackneyed. For those who are fans of Savall, this disc may give delight, albeit with small reservations. For those who aren't, this disc may seem just a mite affected.