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The English Consort, Andrew Manze
MOZART: NIGHT MUSIC
(Harmonia Mundi)
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Who would have thought that Mozartís Eine kleine Nachtmusik could actually sound fresh and vibrant? The English Consort and its new conductor/violinist Andrew Manze accomplish the unlikely task in their first recording together, and their crisp, invigorating playing strips the layers of cliché from Mozartís well-worn serenade. The familiar opening movement has real momentum, as does the Romance that follows, and you hear every line clearly. Rhythmic precision and stylish phrasing are the hallmarks of the playing throughout, in the best tradition of period-instrument playing.

The Serenada Notturna, K.239, sounds equally new, and features some wonderfully unvarnished timpani playing. And the infamous Musical Joke has rarely sounded so wonderfully wrongheaded, with all of its intentional mistakes glaringly rendered. Only in the great Adagio and Fugue in C Minor for strings is there a slight letdown, the music lacking the requisite weight and urgency. Still, as a whole, this release contains a wealth of fresh insights into Mozart, not easy to come by these days. The sound is warm and spacious, and the album notes by Manze are excellent as well.

BY DAVID WEININGER


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