Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) - Mozart Symphonies 38 - 41 Studio Master

Posted By : johhenrik | Date : 15 Dec 2009 03:49:06 | Comments : 19 |

Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) - Mozart Symphonies 38 - 41
FLAC 88.2KHz / 24Bit | Full Artwork | Stereo | 2.50GB | 2007

These are Studio Master files from Linn Records, so NO LOG and NO CUE. See www.linnrecords.com for more details.

Every bit as good as you would expect. Gramophone Recommended.

The Studio Master files are 88.2kHz / 24 bit.

Recorded at City Halls, Glasgow, UK from 3-9 August 2007
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Edited, mixed and mastered by Julia Thomas, Finesplice, UK

About the record
Mozart Symphonies

Between 1764 and 1780 Mozart, based in Salzburg but frequently touring Europe, composed nearly 60 symphonies. (There are more of them than the traditional 41, even allowing for the fact that not all 41 are by Mozart!) That rate of composition averaged more than three symphonies a year. In January 1781 Mozart was ordered by his employer, the Archbishop of Salzburg, to proceed to Vienna, where he contrived to have himself fired and then defied his father's orders to return home. He was 24 years old. An occasional tour aside, Mozart remained in Vienna until his death in December 1791. During that decade he composed six symphonies. What accounts for the precipitous drop in symphony production?

Among various factors possibly bearing on this change in Mozart's priorities, two stand out. The first of these was his need to support himself and his family as a freelance musician at a time when most musicians could achieve that goal only by working for the Church or by wearing livery in the service of a noble family. Judging from his activities and the catalogue of his works during his final decade, Mozart most wanted and needed to compose operas, piano concertos, and domestic chamber music involving a keyboard instrument. Operas were the most visible, prestigious, and lucrative works possible at the time and, if successful, the surest road to broad international recognition. Besides, Mozart was a theatre person to his bones. Piano concertos enabled Mozart to appear before his patrons at (mostly private) concerts, showing himself to best advantage as composer, keyboard virtuoso, orchestra leader, and impresario. Domestic keyboard works provided fodder for his teaching activities, which were mandated by economic need, as well as income from Viennese music publishers, with whom Mozart was on intimate terms and from whom he sometimes cadged advances for not-yet-written music.

The second factor bearing on Mozart's late symphonies was the ongoing evolution of the styles and functions of symphonies in European musical life, of which his own output provides a striking example, articulated as it was by his move from provincial Salzburg to cosmopolitan Vienna. Symphonies of the 1760s and 70s were more often relatively brief, usually less than ten minutes and frequently in three movements. They were most commonly employed in framing or articulating functions: as overtures in theatre, church or chamber, and as entr'actes or interludes as well as concluding gestures in the same venues. That is to say, although they were essential to those occasions they were not the main events which they were enjoined from upstaging. However beautiful, novel or clever such symphonies may have been, they were generally meant to be easily performed and easily listened to - and in fact, Haydn's and Mozart's symphonies were occasionally criticized for overreaching those constraints. A report of 1792 about the Hamburg Orchestra, for instance, said that the group's members were "such good, strong players and keep so calm that they perform correctly and at sight without error," but that when reinforced to play the latest symphonies, they would be "heroes to venture to play Haydn's symphonies (let alone Mozart's) at sight".

After Mozart had settled in Vienna and turned his attention to other genres, he found he could fill his need for symphonies in his concerts by programming works of other composers while also recycling some of his own symphonies from the 1770s, which were unknown there and which he had his father send from Salzburg. That being the case, why did Mozart write symphonies in Vienna? The answer seems to be, at least in part, that the best new symphonies were increasingly of a longer, more complex, more serious type - works that were gradually moving the symphony from the periphery to centre stage. Indeed, when eight years after Mozart's death a Hamburg publisher brought out first editions of four of his Salzburg symphonies, a puzzled reviewer remarked that "... there is nothing more to be said of these symphonies, except that they - although not without good value and content - are really just quite ordinary orchestral symphonies, without any conspicuous traits of originality or novelty, and without any special artistic diligence. Thereby one can quite clearly recognise youthful work, because they are on the whole so very plain...." Knowing, as we do, that Mozart prided himself on tailoring his music to the performers and occasions of the moment, we realise that it was lack of historical perspective that caused the reviewer to attribute to the composer's youth something that was probably more a result of a change in assignment, so to speak.

Symphonies circulated around Europe primarily in hand-written copies. Unlike Paris, Amsterdam and London, with their flourishing music publishing industries, in Vienna symphonies were not published prior to the 1780s. Earlier, Joseph Haydn's symphonies had circulated exclusively in pirated manuscripts, since Haydn's boss, Prince Eszterhazy, owned the proprietary rights to his employee's music. In 1779-80, however, Haydn renegotiated his contract to allow him to sell his own music. Whether these two developments were directly or indirectly related is not clear, but between 1782 and 1787 the Viennese firm Artaria (also Mozart's principal publisher) brought out editions of seventeen symphonies by Joseph Haydn, three by Michael Haydn, three by Antonio Rosetti, and one by Pleyel, while Kozeluch self-published six symphonies. Mozart joined the trend in 1785, when Artaria published his B flat symphony, K.319, written in Salzburg, and his D major (‘Haffner') symphony K.385, written for Salzburg - two excellent but by-then conservative works.

So why did Mozart write symphonies in Vienna? Perhaps many of the symphonies he had previously relied on began to sound old-fashioned or too simple. The ‘Haffner' symphony was commissioned from Salzburg, although Mozart was happy to reinforce its orchestration for use in Vienna. The ‘Linz' symphony was written in and for ‘Linz' when, returning from Salzburg to Vienna in 1783, needing to put on a pair of concerts with the private orchestra of his melomaniacal patrons, the Counts Thun, father and son, and finding himself without a single symphony in his baggage, Mozart quickly scribbled one. Scribbled? Hardly! The ‘Linz' is the first of the completely modern, grand symphonies in which Mozart - his back to Salzburg and his face to Vienna - acknowledged and responded to the new symphony aesthetic. After that, there was no turning back, as Mozart's last four symphonic masterpieces amply attest.

The so-called ‘Prague' symphony was composed for a series of Advent concerts in Vienna. Soon afterwards Mozart took off for Prague, where the Symphony's brilliant success made it into a canonic work and provided its nickname. As reported in 1798 by the Prague school-master Franz Niemetschek, who had met Mozart and would become his biographer and help to educate his orphaned sons, the ‘Prague' Symphony, "played with great élan and fire, so that the very soul is carried to sublime heights...is still always a favourite in Prague, although it has no doubt been heard a hundred times".

The final three symphonies, completed in the summer of 1788, were presumably intended, following Mozart's usual methods for wringing maximum income from his music in an era before the existence of copyright laws, in the first instance for subscription concerts in the autumn of that year, then for sale in manuscript to a small circle of faithful patrons, and finally, when the novelty and exclusivity had faded, for publication. That there were three symphonies was probably not fortuitous, as opuses most often comprised three works, or multiples of three, in the same genre. Alas for Mozart's plans, in February 1788 Austria had entered an ill-fated war against Turkey, the nobility were mostly either fighting at the front or cowering on their country estates, the economy sagged, theatres were closed and cultural life slowed to a crawl. The need for monumental new symphonies evaporated. Mozart turned his attention to his upper-middle class friends and patrons and the kinds of chamber music they liked and could afford.

The theatres, halls, music rooms and salons in which Mozart performed his symphonies were small compared to most modern concert halls. His orchestras were correspondingly smaller than a full symphony orchestra as well, and his listeners were positioned correspondingly closer to the musicians. (At private concerts they would sometimes play along, or sit or stand in the orchestra to observe more closely.) These factors meant that orchestral music must have sounded more intimate, nuanced and transparent than we often hear in large modern halls with enlarged performing forces. How delightful, then, that the close microphones and digital technologies of a modern CD of Mozart's last four symphonies performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras, seem to restore some of the intimacy, nuance and transparency we imagine that Mozart's audiences enjoyed.

© Neal Zaslaw, 2007


29 September 2009
Frederic Beudot

There are hundreds of recordings of Mozart's last four symphonies ranging from the sublime to the forgettable, a few even hitting the dreadful mark as far as I am concerned. Yet Sir Charles Mackerras and his Scottish Chamber Orchestra deemed it necessary to add another one to the catalog.

And darn right they were!

I always dread reviewing new recordings of the great classics and Mozart's late symphonies are no exception. What can possibly be said that has not been written already? What can a conductor unearth that we have not heard before? How far off the score do they need to wander to get our attention when Gardiner, Davis, Bohm, Krips and Beecham have given us such a rich legacy of interpretations?

The fact that the most enlightening answer in a long time comes from the 84-year old Mackerras and his not quite period, not quite modern orchestra is revealing in itself-perhaps it takes maturity and balance few have reached-but how they achieve it is the key to maybe a new era of interpretation. You'll read often enough that so and so has married modern and period interpretations techniques to great effect. Routinely the result is a hybrid that does not know where it belongs. The first successful attempt I heard is Paavo Järvi's recording of Beethoven's symphonies with Bremen. I find that Mackerras achieves the perfect blend better still.

The violins used by the SCO are modern instruments for tone and body but played without vibrato as is customary for the period crowds. The brass instruments are period horns and trumpets without valves for brassiness and acidity that contrasts against the full-bodied strings. Mackerras also favors the modern clarinet for its tonal color and delicacy over the oboe when both versions of the score exist (Symphony N°. 39 & 40 especially).

Sir Charles' reading on the symphony is both lithe and spirited without unnecessary weight or sweetness. But it is also dense and powerful sans harmonic thinning and excess harshness as can all too often be the case in radical period recordings. His artistic vision is superbly supported by Linn's recording crew. It is rare that one so easily perceives how the recording and mastering have been thought through to reinforce the conductor's intentions. The strings are superb and lush but don't sound like one big blob. They're finely articulated and defined yet in the 41st Symphony when Mozart uses muted strings for a completely novel effect, the recording conveys the restrain and hushed sounds better than any I have heard so far.

The trumpets and horns are recorded quite closely to emphasize brassiness and dynamics, a bit of a special effect that is kept in control to add just enough spice now and then to get our attention without intruding with the composition. The tympani also are more present than typical for most of Mozart's recording but here again the balance reached is one of accentuation without overwhelming the orchestra.

The end result throughout the four symphonies is a palette of instrumental colors that is extremely rich and diverse, and Mackerras uses it in a fashion that perpetually sheds new light on the music without ever sounding out of place. Rhythm and tempi are lively but never pressed, each musical phrase is easy to follow and identify yet Mackerras achieves this without tearing the fabric of the symphonies apart as is too common nowadays.

The notion for this review was not a blow-by-blow account of the four symphonies but to stress that regardless of whether you already own four sets of them or are contemplating acquiring your first, Sir Charles Mackerras' vision with the SCO is one of the very finest of the modern era - one that will move you emotionally and at the same time reward with insights that none of the others provides. The fact that the superb recording quality supports the artistic performance so perfectly makes this set a must own and a Blue Moon Award without any reserve.

07 March 2008
Lindsay Kemp

There is no need to argue the credential of Sir Charles Mackerras as a Mozart interpreter, so let us just say that this double CD of the composer's last four symphonies contains no surprises - it is every bit as good as you would expect. Like many modern instrument performances these days, it shows the period orchestra influences in its lean sound, agile dynamic contrasts, sparing string vibrato, rasping brass, sharp-edged timpani and prominent woodwind, though given Mackerras's long revisionist track-record it seems an insult to suggest that he would not have arrived at such a sound of his own accord. And, in any case this handling of it - joyously supported by the playing of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra - is supremely skilled; rarely will you hear such well judged orchestral balance, such effective marrying of textural transparency and substance. The Jupiter in particular has a wonderful bright grandeur, yet reveals details in the brilliant contrapuntal kaleidoscope of the finale that too often go unheard.

Seldom, either, will you hear such expertly chosen tempi; generally these performances are on the quick side, but rather than seeming hard-driven they exude forward momentum effortlessly worn. Nowhere is this better shown in the slow movements (even with all their repeats they never flag, yet their shifting expressive moods are still tenderly drawn), but also conspicuously successful are the slow introductions to Symphonies Nos 38 and 39 (the former ominous, but alert, the latter full of intelligent anticipation with shivery violin lines falling like cold rain down the back of the neck) and the Minuet movements of Nos 40 and 39 (whose cheeky one-on-a-bar lilt does wonders for its tootly clarinet Trio).

These are not Mozart performances for the romantics out there. But neither are they in the least lacking in humanity. No, this is thoroughly modern-day Mozart, full of wisdom and leaving the listener in no doubt of the music's ineffable greatness.

Gramophone Recommended.

01 March 2008
BBC Music Magazine
Michael Tanner
5 Stars

These performances are so exhilarating that I listened to all four symphonies straight through at a first hearing, mesmerised by the variety and intensity of the music itself, sounding here completely fresh, and the virtually flawless renderings by the excellent Scottish Chamber Orchestra, with Sir Charles Mackerras at his most penetrating. Perhaps the first thing that strikes one is the rawness of so much of this music, emphasised in accounts which give encouragement to the winds to blow their hardest, and with a string section of only 24 players. Then there is the scale: the first movements of the Prague Symphony lasts for 18 minutes, since Mackerras takes every repeat. In such a rich and innovative movement, that is certainly justified, but it shows Mozart working on what is normally thought of as a Beethovenian scale. The strenuous seriousness and originality of Mozart's outer movements, and the colour of his orchestration, maybe shouldn't come as any surprise, but the wonderful thing here is that for almost anyone, I think, they will. Mackerras doesn't short-change us on the tenderness and often painful lyricism, either, nor is he afraid to relax the tempo as a festive or belligerent motif gives way to a gentler one, with the strings, despite their small number, ravishing us with their tone.

Obviously there are a few points where one can differ; given that the minuet of the 40th Symphony is marked allegretto, I was surprised to hear it played so briskly, when a slower tempo would underline its grimness. And on the matter of repeats, wouldn't it be permissible to play many of them but not all? As it is, what we get is two whole performances of each work, with tiny exceptions. If each section of a minuet is repeated the first time, need there be repetitions the second time round? I only ask. Whatever one's small reservations, these two discs show as clearly as any I know the largeness of the human spirit, and renew one's astonishment at Mozart's sovereign genius.

Track Listing

01 - Symphony No 38 in D major Prague K 504 - I Adagio - Allegro.flac
02 - Symphony No 38 in D major Prague K 504 - II Andante.flac
03 - Symphony No 38 in D major Prague K 504 - III Finale Presto.flac
04 - Symphony No 39 in E flat major K 543 - I Adagio - Allegro.flac
05 - Symphony No 39 in E flat major K 543 - II Andante con moto.flac
06 - Symphony No 39 in E flat major K 543 - III Minuetto Allegretto Trio.flac
07 - Symphony No 39 in E flat major K 543 - IV Finale Allegro.flac
08 - Symphony No 40 in G minor K 550 - I Molto allegro.flac
09 - Symphony No 40 in G minor K 550 - II Andante.flac
10 - Symphony No 40 in G minor K 550 - III Menuetto Allegretto.flac
11 - Symphony No 40 in G minor K 550 - IV Finale Allegro assai.flac
12 - Symphony No 41 in C major Jupiter K 551 - I Allegro vivace.flac
13 - Symphony No 41 in C major Jupiter K 551 - II Andante cantabile.flac
14 - Symphony No 41 in C major Jupiter K 551 - III Menuetto Allegretto.flac
15 - Symphony No 41 in C major Jupiter K 551 - IV Molto allegro.flac

About Linn Records

Part of Linn Products Ltd, world leaders in sound reproduction equipment, Linn Records was formed in 1983.

While Linn engineers were testing their flagship product, the Sondek LP12 turntable, they became frustrated with the poor quality of some of the specialist test LPs they were using. The measurements were swamped by record imperfections. Better test discs were needed so work began on an LP cutting lathe as a research product to improve testing for the LP12.

The first albums to be cut and subsequently released were Carol Kidd's debut album and A Walk Across the Rooftops by the Blue Nile. Thus Linn Records was born...

Today the label is one of the world's leading audiophile labels specialising in classical, jazz and Celtic music. We reproduce our music on CD (or SACD), Vinyl and now as high quality Downloads.

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Posted By: mozart90 Date: 15 Dec 2009 04:59:53
Thank you!! Expecting more to come.
Posted By: waterlogic Date: 15 Dec 2009 05:37:24
Thank you for sharing. Best interpretation of these symphonies ever heard on recorded media !
Posted By: zedda piras Date: 15 Dec 2009 08:12:52
Thank you johhenrik for another audiophile share.

I like very much Mozart but, generally, I didn't like Mackerras until now.
Perhaps some of his early performances (I heard them at the beginning of 80s) were not as brilliant as those of other's conductors.
But now it seems he could be a really great Mozart interpreter and I think this is not all about the Hi-Fi... :)
Posted By: musician3 Date: 15 Dec 2009 13:55:23
Great......Thank You
Posted By: Arend Date: 15 Dec 2009 16:16:19
Thank you johhenrik for these great (audiophile) symphonies!
Good to hear more fine classic music on Avaxhome...
Posted By: acaciatree Date: 15 Dec 2009 16:44:11
Thank you very much.
Posted By: oXbow Date: 15 Dec 2009 18:54:12
No this is not all about hi-fi. So thanks for splendid music and background info johhenrik and ByGijS. I bought a Phillips CD100 14bit, which was stucked with their TDA-1540. This was back in '82-'83... Die cast and stuff and very expensive. Build like a tank. It sounded like the Chain Saw Masakre. I bought a lot of cd records, but never heard them until years later when vinyl became very bad in production and cd quality went up. I think this share proves a step for mankind and all music lovers.
Posted By: tiotada Date: 15 Dec 2009 19:45:20
Finally, classical posts.
Great job. Many thanks.
Posted By: old_pioneer Date: 15 Dec 2009 21:56:03
Posted By: johhenrik Date: 15 Dec 2009 22:06:03

I can't really take credit for the info. I have stolen it completly from Linn's site. :) So thank them by buying a few good releases. :) They have a deal now where you can buy 3 and pay for 2. Just add code "3for2" at check-out and you get the cheapest release for free. They deserve the money for their splendid productions I think. :)
Posted By: Blue61 Date: 16 Dec 2009 01:34:50
Thank you very much from Spain.
Muchas gracias !!!
Posted By: a5arend Date: 16 Dec 2009 02:22:43
Thank you very much from the Netherland for these great (audiophile) symphonies
Posted By: Kel bazar Date: 16 Dec 2009 12:06:13
Thanks johhenrik, this sound fantastic on my Linn Keilidh loudspeakers!!!!
Posted By: Dobermann1 Date: 16 Dec 2009 20:41:50
Thank you so much for this audiophile gift !
It fits exactly on a DVD-Audio and sounds fabulous!
Posted By: thc9 Date: 28 Dec 2009 14:43:55
Thank you!
Posted By: Byrn Date: 09 Jan 2010 13:52:41
Thanks for this wonderfull post!!!Amazing!!!
Posted By: giannuzzu1961 Date: 12 Feb 2010 11:38:27
Great..i have the SACD but this is very appreciated for my PC based system..
Posted By: kwork Date: 24 Mar 2010 16:54:37
Thank you very much!
Posted By: ulisfran Date: 27 Jul 2011 18:57:04
Gracias amigo