Mozart: Serenade No. 7 'Haffner' - Nikolic
PentaTone Classics PTC 5186097
Classical - Orchestral
Mozart: Serenade No. 7 in D K.250 'Haffner', March in D K.249
Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
Gordan Nikolic (conductor)
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Review by John Broggio - October 6, 2008
This is the only version of Mozart's glorious Haffner Serenade available on SACD outside of Japan and even though Exton have two versions released, it is unlikely that either would please many more than this one from the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, directed by their leader Gordan Nikolic.
Listening to the opening March K249 that precedes the Serenade, one is immediately struck by how much gravitas Nikolic invests in the music. This is no delicate, perfumed Mozart but one that looks far into the future, to Beethoven in particular. This approach is continued in the Serenade and at times feels a little on the "rough and ready" side of committed playing. Still, Nikolic shows he has learnt many lessons from being leader of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and being directed by such luminaries as Abbado and Harnoncourt; like both of them, all the lines are clearly delineated. The somewhat gruff playing may well stem from Harnoncourt's influence, the greater use of vibrato to which listeners of HIP Mozart will be accustomed certainly does not!
Speeds are faster than those frequently heard in accounts dating from 1960-1980 but are never breathless or strike the listener in any way remotely hasty. In the concertante movements, there is no doubting Nikolic's presence and some might find the slightly extrovert contribution in tutti passages a little unusual. The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra play wonderfully well and considering that they are being directed rather conducted, the ensemble is very good indeed - the tempo changes are particularly impressive. Particularly so, since the style of playing and weight of sound makes it clear that the body of strings is not as pared down as many conductors choose to employ these days.
The sound from Pentatone is well up to their usual house standards if not perhaps the very finest they have achieved but it certainly good by any normal measure.
If one wishes to hear one of Mozart's great Serenades in a decidedly non-HIP manner in fine sound, then no hesitation is needed.
Copyright © 2008 John Broggio and HRAudio.net