Jeannette Sorrell / Apollo's Fire

Mozart: Symphony No. 40; Ballet Music from Idomeneo

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The group Apollo's Fire, also known as the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, was founded by its present conductor Jeannette Sorrell. Playing on period instruments, the modestly sized ensemble delves into the later end of the repertoire with this Mozart disc on the Avie album. Sorrell makes the curious choice to open the program with the well-known, powerful Symphony 40 in G minor, a work that concludes with such fervor and drama that it would seem more appropriately placed at the conclusion of the disc. Sorrell's vision for Mozart seems to be one of modest intensity and tempo diversity. Neither of the outer movements are noticeably driven or brisk, and the inner movements are likewise unsurprising in their execution. Apollo's Fire does deliver a technically clean performance that is generally well-balanced, but there's nothing much new or innovative to be found in this reading of one of Mozart's most frequently recorded symphonies. The program continues with what may be the highlight of the disc, soprano Amanda Forsythe's performance of a recitative and aria from the opera seria Lucio Silla. Forsythe's voice is powerful, intense, pure, and warm, easily taking the limelight from the more subdued orchestra. The disc concludes with selections of dance music, for which Mozart was much celebrated in his lifetime but has fallen by the wayside in modern times. Apollo's Fire is graceful and exuberant in these works; Avie's overall sound quality is clean and well-blended.

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