Karl Böhm’s recordings of any Mozart carried with it the imprint of greatness and those of the Mozart Symphonies have become benchmark recordings, renowned for their poise, elegance and essential beauty of sound.
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Symphony No. 39 in E-Flat Major, K. 543 [25:03] 1 I. Adagio – Allegro 9:03 2 II. Andante con moto 7:37 3 III. Menuetto: Allegretto 4:14 4 IV. Finale: Allegro 4:08
Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 [26:15] 5 I. Molto allegro 8:26 6 II. Andante 8:02 7 III. Menuetto: Allegretto 4:45 8 IV. Allegro assai 5:01
Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551, “Jupiter” [27:00] 9 I. Allegro vivace 7:36 10 II. Andante cantabile 7:36 11 III. Menuetto: Allegretto 5:21 12 IV. Molto Allegro 6:26
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“What the performances tell us, warm and genial, with bold contrasts of dynamic and well-sprung rhythms, is that for the players as well as the conductor this was a voyage of discovery, and their enthusiasm never wanes.”
“These performances come from the first ever complete set of Mozart symphonies (reviewed above), and they still represent 'big orchestra' Mozart at its most congenial. The contrast between Böhm's sparkling Mozart, both elegant and vigorous, and the much smoother view taken by Karajan on his countless recordings with the same orchestra, works almost entirely in Böhm's favour here. Interpretatively, these are performances very much of their time, with exposition repeats the exception (as in the first movement of No 40) and with minuets taken at what now seem like lumbering speeds. However, the slow movements certainly flow easily enough, and finales bounce along infectiously.
Consistently they convey the happy ease of Böhm in Mozart, even if the recording is beefy by today's standards, not as transparent as one now expects in this repertory, whether on modern or period instruments.
“these Berlin Philharmonic performances are warm and magnetic, with refined and strongly rhythmic playing, and there is an attractive honesty and strength about them” “Böhm sounds mellow and cultivated but still magnetic and strong…
the BPO play very beautifully and the recording is agreeably warm and full”