I had the good fortune to work with Sir Charles in Barcelona and London during the 1980s and always thought he was much underated conductor at the time. It has therefore been a real pleasure to see that over the last decade of his life he became one of the undisputed “Great “ conductors especially in Janacek and Dvorak — his recordings of the Beethoven Symphonies with the RLPO are amongst my favourite performances.
He was also a thorough musicologist who researched deeply into the music he conducted (unlike many conductors who have cluttered the record catalogues of the last 40 years – but that argument must remain for another day).
Mackerras recorded all the Mozart symphonies with the Prague Chamber Orchestra and his interpretations have widened and deepened over the last few years.
Symphony no 29 is a model of a classical symphony and here Mackerras conducts it with clean lines and a transparency of orchestral texture which highlight just what a wonderful piece it really is. There is real energy and lightness to these early symphonies and my only hesitation is a slight in balance from the brass playing and the odd intonation problem but as these are period instruments it is hard to blend like a modern horn or trumpet and this is the sound Mozart would have known.
The Haffner and Linz symphonies are superbly executed by all departments and the energy and drive really bring these works alive. The tempos are brisk and urgent and it is no surprise that they have the hint of Beethoven about them as Mackerras unleashes the full power of a modern but period sounding orchestra.
These performances go together with the earlier set of symphonies 38 to 41 and form a fitting farewell for one of the finest musicians of the last 60 years.
Sir Georg Solti once said ‘just to know that Mozart lived proves the existence of God’. Mackerras demonstrates it.
Mozart Symphonies 29, 31” Paris “, 32, 35 “Haffner”, 36 “ Linz”
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Charles Mackerras
Linn Records 91062 03502 (2 discs)
Playing time: 117 minutes