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Reviews: Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 40 & 41 - RPO/Glover

Reviews: 5

Site review by Castor January 1, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by Daland February 19, 2005 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Jane Glover, formerly artistic director of the London Mozart Players, gives very fine performances of Mozart's last two symphonies. This is "big band" Mozart at its best, apparently without any concessions to the authenticity movement. Those who believe that a large body of players is unsuitable for Mozart should read what the composer himself had to say about the matter. In a letter to his father he described in glowing terms how the Mannheim Orchestra had performed one of his symphonies with well over 60 players. He regretted that no such orchestra was available in Salzburg or Vienna.
In sonic terms, this is an attractive or even spectacular performance. The soundstage is quite wide, with the rear speakers audibly involved in the proceedings. As a result, the sound is a bit diffuse and not as clearly defined and natural as in other recordings. There is also a hint of edginess in the louder passages, but on balance, this SACD is a clear improvement on the redbook version (praised for its clarity at the time). The booklet says that up to 48 microphones were used in 1994 for this series to capture the tone quality of each and every instrument.
My overall impression is somewhat ambivalent. There is something artificial, but also something irresistible about this kind of surround sound. Whether you like it or not is, ultimately, a matter of taste.

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Review by brenda April 14, 2005 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The Figaro overture blares out of your speakers with a shrillness that can only be tamed by a drastic twisting (down) of the volume control. Thereafter things are much better, with the sound still being a little too shrill and slightly glassy, but acceptable. The soundstaging in surround is quite good, with some reverberation but a feeling now and again that the second violins shouldn’t come quite so much from behind on dying cadences.

As with the O’Hara concertos disc, this should have been cut at a much lower level if it was to capture more subtlety in the performances.However, there isn’t a lot of subtlety in the performances, - not that they’re bad, just prosaic. Glover is a somewhat prim orchestral conductor, whereas she takes more risks with the choral conducting which is her metier. The 40th suffers most from this, - you won’t find the exhilirating and spine tingling nervous tension of Britten and the ECO here, just Mozart by the numbers.

The Jupiter is fine, but again, not up to Bernstein or Davis, whose reading (with the Dresdeners) is equally “straight” but much more flowing.As with the O’Hara disc, this is acceptable as a budget SACD, but I’d advise to hold your horses till something better (on modern instruments) comes along.

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Review by Allan1us November 7, 2005 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
These are likeable performances. I thought the big band sound might have come from being recorded in a church. Unfortunately the string sound is harsh and steely and although I have tried to like the performances there is no getting past the sound of the strings. A pity because the Bizet/Grieg disc of this RPO series was made in the same church in the same month and does not suffer from this problem.

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Review by drdanfee December 16, 2005 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  

Wow, what a bargain this SACD hybrid is, in all senses of the word. Feel free to keep reading my comments, but only after you have clicked through to get this super-audio gem which can hold its own with any similar Mozart repertoire so far recorded.

Where to begin praising?

The first facet of this lovely recording is its transfer into – get this – multi-channel superaudio surround sound, remastered from regular red book CD as released on the old Tring RPO series some years back. The recording venue is listed as All Saints Church, Petersham, Surrey, circa 1993. Well, have no fear, no technical mastering glitch prevents this edition from keeping extremely good company with any other high resolution disc you may now own. You get a very nice sense of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, robust, clear (not to say limpid), and detailed. You also get a good sense of the church hall, too, as a integral to the orchestra’s presence, not just a box or container. If you are a die-hard purist, you can tell your player to play either the regular red book CD stereo, or the superaudio 2.0 stereo version also included on the disc. But I am happy – delighted, actually, to do the five channels all around.

My system includes five Def Tech USA full range speakers, a Velodyne woofer, Bryston power amps, and a B&K Ref 30 preamp fed by a Pioneer omi-player (DV-653A). High resolution or multi-channel sound is nothing, of course, unless it serves to convey a performance worth hearing, and so we come to the other very fine facets of this jewel of a superaudio disc.

Dr. Jane Glover is not exactly a new name, but as anyone who has heard her in live performances, or in past recordings, it is safe to conclude she is still one of the most gifted conductors now working before the public, man or woman. That said, she is still under-rated all out of proportion to her abilities, and I would stack most of what she does up against any other living musician. Her career of late has included being created a CBE in the Queen’s New Years Honors of 2003, and working lots more in USA assignments, branching out more and more from Chicago’s early music scene where she is music director of Chicago Baroque.

Glover has done loads of opera conducting, and her approach to Mozart has the character-ful touch that helps brings each dimension of this complex music to life. Her Mozart is warm, human, dramatic, and witty. She somehow magically combines the warmth one associates with Josef Krips’ rather old-fashioned Mozart, with the utter clarity and musical purpose one associated with George Szell or Guido Cantelli.

Surely if the world had a Nobel Prize for Mozart, Ms. Glover would have already won it, and we would have shelves full of her recorded genius. Meanwhile, by all means, get this superaudio disc while you wait. Even without global prizes to be awarded, surely Ms. Glover would be among the planet’s four or five top Mozartians.

From the first skittering phrases of the overture to Le Nozze di Figaro that opens this disc, to the last echoing chords that conclude symphony 41 – you are likely to find yourself being invited to dwell for a time in something akin to utter Moazartian bliss.

Nobody loved a good, rough joke more than dear old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ms. Glover knows it and lets her recreation of his last two symphonies remind us that listeners will tend to smile when they get blessed out.

The band is the redoubtable Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, founded by Tommie Beecham in 1946. Generations of worthy members have already graced its roster, but this recording potently suggests that something of the founder’s spirit is still alive and kicking. Tommie Beecham eventually became Sir Thomas, yet he remains forever famous for his own witty remarks, as much as for his first class musical leadership in many different composers’ works. The story is still told that Sir Thomas was leading a rehearsal one day, when he stopped the orchestra two or three times to say that the E-flat trombone was playing off key. Finally, when Sir Thomas took yet another pause devoted to this same complaint, one of the brass players finally said, Well, sir, the trombone player hasn’t arrived yet because he’s running late for rehearsal. Oh, Sir Thomas is said to have answered, Well, then, when he does arrive, would you be so kind as to immediately tell him he’s playing out of tune.

You probably have a favorite Tommie Beecham anecdote of your own, or just ask a friend, there are tons of good ones floating around. You can link over to Wikipedia to find a few more, if you like, at:

Well, funny people are not necessarily great musicians, or we could just hand Mozart over to quite a few of the headliners on the Comedy Central cable channel, couldn’t we? But I dare you to name a really great Mozartian who couldn’t pull a mug face or smile or laugh, musically speaking. Ms. Glover and the RPO far outdistance most of the many also-rans of recorded Mozart symphonies. I for one will take them playing Mozart over von Karajan and the BPO,or any any number of other brand-name combos, any day of the week.

Well, none of us are yet employed as A&R directors who can commission Ms. Glover and the RPO to do a full set of Mozart Symphonies. Do let this budget superaudio disc fill in some of the gap that exists from not having them yet. Forget counting stars, this one is really just that super. Thanks to for giving this part of the catalogue a new lease on life. Take a look at other Membran discs, some of which are quite competitive in sound and musical performance value. Depending on your currency's rate of exchange, the pricing may be very competitive also.

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