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Dip Your Ears, No. 253 (Blomstedt's Terribly-Reasonably-Delightful Mozart)

available at Amazon
W.A.Mozart, Symphonies 40 & 41,
BRSO / Herbert Blomstedt
BR Klassik

The instinct is to love and adore everything that Herbert Blomstedt conducts and records. Naturally. He really is and always has been a marvelous conductor and the fact that Europeans are only realizing this after he turned 90 makes it a heartwarming story, somehow. Certainly, Blomstedt deserves the attention and he is the real deal. (See also: The Subtle Miracle Herbert Blomstedt And Bamberg's Cathedral Tour Of Bruckner) But he’s not a magician, either. Which is why this Mozart recording of the last two Symphonies, Nos. 40 and 41, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is simply—only—very, very good… but no revelation.

Now it’s rare for big symphony orchestras to play Mozart well and for the uncluttered lines, for the reasonable lightness, for the crisp attacks and the beautiful unimpeded flow, this gets very high marks. Repeat-fetishists (you know you’re out there!) get their full due, too! You could think of this as modernized Krips or updated Fricsay (perhaps the two best in yesteryear Mozart) or as not-quite-there HIPsterdom, failing to reach the ‘see-through textures and flamboyance’ (Robert Levine) of a René Jacobs (Harmonia Mundi) or the in-your-face explosiveness of a Matthieu Herzog (naïve) or—though he hasn’t recorded any symphonies yet—Teodor Currentzis. Or you simply think of it as a civilized best-of-both-worlds take that is bound to greatly please most while deftly avoiding all the pitfalls that plague nearly all modern Mozart: Tedious drudge or wilfull exaggeration.

It turns out that that works very well in “40”, which comes across as the vivacious alpine brook it is. It works a smidgen less well in “41”, which sounds the broader stream it also is… but without carrying more water to make up for the increased width of the musical riverbed. A certain kind of stateliness creeps in, that’s more Beethoven Sixth than Bach Christmas Oratorio-meets-Rite of the Spring (as I like to imagine it, with fireworks going off in the finale, and a big brassy punch right into the kisser). That’s where I prefer me some over-the-top excellence (Hello, M.Herzog!), after all. Not that you’d much mind, in the moment, listening to the excellence of Blomstedt (a.k.a. “Günter Wand 2.0”).

Despite five years between the two recordings, the very fine Herkulessaal-sound and acoustics are the same… unless that subtle subdued quality of the “Jupiter” is an outgrowth of a subtly different recording quality, after all.


Blomstedt on ionarts:

Orchestrated Delight from Leipzig, jfl, 10/19/04

Dip Your Ears, No. 37 (Strauss Indulgence, jfl, 7/7/05)

NSO with Blomstedt, CDT, 2/17/12

Notes from the 2014 Salzburg Festival ( 5 ) - Anton Bruckner Cycle • Bruckner VIII. Quietly Fabulous, jfl, 8/8/14

Blomstedt and Ax return to the NSO, CDT, 2/27/15

Ionarts at Large: Blomstedt and Pires in San Francisco, RRR, 3/1/16

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