Freiburger Barockorchester / René Jacobs

Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 39 & 40

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René Jacobs has long been an honored figure in the field of early music, and his 2010 recordings of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, K. 543, and the Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550, with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra fall in line with positive expectations of this conductor and ensemble. The characteristic glossiness of the strings, the piquant tone of period woodwinds, and the radiant sound of the pre-modern brass are de rigueur for historically informed performances of Classical music. As one of the leaders of the movement for authentic performance practice, Jacobs delivers on all the essential points, though this is by no means just a dry demonstration of Classical sonorities and methods. This music is full of delicate inflections and bold accents, and Jacobs interprets the music with subtlety, paying close attention to Mozart's lyrical melodies and their phrasing, and even allowing discreet touches of rubato in their shaping. In terms of emotional coloration within the norms of Classical expression, K. 543 couldn't be warmer or richer, and K. 550 is surprisingly sharp and tense, reminiscent of the aggressive Sturm und Drang style, as opposed to more pathos-laden modern readings with which listeners are quite familiar. Jacobs is brilliant in setting up surprises in these extremely familiar pieces, so pay close attention to all the changes of dynamics and articulation he makes when the music repeats. Harmonia Mundi's sound is wonderfully vibrant and full, and the acoustics are delightfully resonant without being distracting.

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