Charles Mackerras

Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 38-41

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Charles Mackerras' mid-'80s Telarc recordings of Mozart symphonies with the Prague Chamber Orchestra were smart, stylish, and notable for their rhythmic drive and formal verve. Being 20 years older, and thus over the age of 80, clearly hasn't slowed Mackerras as heard in these 2008 Linn recordings with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. They have the same drive and verve as his earlier work, but his vision now seems clearer and more radiant than before. The Scottish musicians play with a tight but relaxed ensemble, a bright but subtle tone, and an obvious affection for the man leading them; they seem to be singing more than playing the scores. With them as his instrument, Mackerras' conducting is more lyrical than before, bringing out inner lines and transforming them into true themes, but without losing any of his earlier propensity for dramatic urgency. This is fortunate because Mackerras has opted to take both the exposition and the development repeats, and so most movements now last 30 to 40 percent longer than they do on other recordings. But such is the brilliance of the orchestra's ensemble and the buoyancy of the director's beat that even the developments seem more compelling the second time around. Anyone interested in Mozart's late symphonies should by all means here this two-disc set. Linn's HDCD sound is translucent.

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