Also, March in D, E. 249. Gordan Nikolic, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. PentaTone Classics PTC 5186 097.
There is certainly no shortage of Mozart "Haffner" Serenades to go around. There's one for almost every taste. I'm afraid this one falls short of some of my favorites, though, even if the PentaTone SACD audio is fairly good.
Maestro Gordan Nikolic leads a modern-instruments group, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, in a fairly straightforward rendition of the work. There is nothing wrong with this, but if he wants to sell discs, he might have striven for something more extraordinary. The "Haffner" Serenade, dedicated to the daughter of its patron, Siegmund Haffner, is a long piece, over fifty minutes, divided into nine movements. Despite its length, it is a composition of light music by Mozart's standards; yet you wouldn't quite know it by Nikolic's performance, which rather emphasizes the music's serious side.
The little March that opens the program doesn't have a lot of zip to it, either. This is music for people who take their Mozart on the sedate side.
PentaTone's sound, reproduced on a hybrid multichannel and two-channel stereo SACD, is also somewhat on the heavy side, although it nicely complements the interpretation. I found the sonics a bit one-dimensional in terms of depth and slightly constricted in left-to-right spread, but I only listened in two channels, not multiple channels. I'm sure it would open up well to the additional speakers if you have them.
About the Author
Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.
Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.
When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.
So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.
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