Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 35-41

Karl Böhm

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Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 35-41 Review

by Blair Sanderson

Karl Böhm's set of the last Mozart symphonies, recorded for Deutsche Grammophon between 1959 and 1966, rank among the greatest performances of these extraordinary works. The Berlin Philharmonic brings genuine warmth and vitality to the symphonies, yet maintains a poise throughout, which, in terms of balance and measured phrasing, is decidedly Classical. Böhm's rendition of the Symphony No. 35 "Haffner" is exciting in the outer movements, but steadily paced in the Andante and the stately Menuetto. The Symphony No. 36 "Linzer" is admirable for its clarity of form and sturdiness, though the performance is briskly paced to keep the music from seeming rigidly architectural. The Symphony No. 38 "Prager" glows with amorous feeling and humor, and Mozart's orchestral palette is at its most colorful in the Andante. After an intensely dramatic introduction, the Symphony No. 39 proceeds in a relaxed, gemütlich manner, and the slower tempi allow the winds to be fully resonant. In the Symphony No. 40, tenderness and pathos are emphasized over anxiety and drama, and Böhm's dynamics are carefully gauged to make this distinction clear. The Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter" is grand and energetic, and the Berlin Philharmonic's performance of the miraculous finale is this set's crowning achievement.

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