Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mozart en famille

"It may be,” wrote theologian Karl Barth, "that when the angels go about their task of praising God, they play only Bach. I am sure, however, that when they are together en famille, they play Mozart and that then too our dear Lord listens with special pleasure." I love Mozart, and I love Barth, but a good part of the pleasure I get from this passage comes from his phrase "en famille". It implies warmth and security and closeness, and those are the very feelings that came over me when I listened to this new LSO Live disc that features the LSO Wind Ensemble in one of Mozart's greatest chamber works. The expert LSO wind players shine in performances of large-scale Mozart: the piano concertos, the Requiem, the late symphonies, operas. There is individual virtuosity and excellence in all aspects of musicianship, but, and just as important, also an ability to provide a characteristic but not overly homogenized wind sound for the orchestra. When they play en famille, just themselves, they bring this to bear, but amongst themselves they can really be themselves. This means there's a relaxed feeling without any loss of drama, and the kind of swing that you hear in Duke Ellington's band or Count Basie's band. This is now, after many listens, my favourite version of a favourite work by my favourite composer.

Karl Barth, Basel, 1958. Photo: Imagno

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