Various Artists

Mozart: The Great Serenades

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The Great Serenades and then some, this three-disc set on Brilliant collects Mozart's best-known serenades plus several of his less well known serenade-like works. Of the best known are the grand seven-movement "Posthorn" and the even grander eight-movement "Haffner," both scored for full classical orchestra, plus the exquisite four-movement Eine kleine Nachtmusik scored for strings alone. Of the less well known serenade-like works, there are the evocative three-movement Serenata Notturna, the 18(!)-movement Galimatthias Musicum, the droll four-movement Ein musikalischer Spass, and the three sprightly three-movement Salzburg Divertimentos. While a mixed bag in terms of performance practice, the performances themselves are all uniformly excellent. Previously issued on Novalis, the two orchestral serenades plus the Serenata Notturna are played on modern instruments by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Colin Davis. They're big but stylish readings with plenty of juice in the string tone, lots of muscle in the brass playing, and a delightfully ingratiating violin soloist in the "Haffner." Previously issued by Hungaroton, the Gallimatthias Musicum is likewise played on modern instruments by the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra under Janos Rolla. They're lean and light in tone but still charming in the Pastorella and strong willed in the closing Fuga. Previously un-released, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Ein musikalischer Spass, and the Salzburg Divertimentos are played on period instruments by the Krupälzisches Kammerorchester Mannheim under Florian Heyerick. There's not much vibrato and even less glissando in the playing, but still, with plenty of elegance with a side helping of soulfulness in the Andantes, Heyerick and the Krupälzisches turn in performances as appealing in their way as Davis and the Bavarians or Rolla and the Hungarians.

Brilliant's sound is clean, bright, and cheerful in the newly issued Krupälzisches, and straight reissues of Novalis' warm but slightly distant recordings and Hungaroton's crisp but slightly glassy recordings.

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