Mozart: Complete Edition
Mozart may have died heavy in debt, having encountered much fickleness on the part of the Viennese audiences and struggled to find suitable permanent employment for most of his career, but today his music is celebrated the world over; he is considered one of music history's greatest names, the vast majority of his works enjoying regular performances and being constantly reinterpreted by amateurs and top professionals alike. Stretching from his earliest years (Mozart started composing at the age of five) right through to his final days, this wonderful compendium traverses the full gamut of his output, covering the time spent in Salzburg working for his employer, the Archbishop Colloredo, the extensive travel he undertook during the 1760s and 1770s (which was in part to showcase his prodigious talents on the keyboard and violin, together with his talented sister Nannerl), and his later years in Vienna, to which he escaped in 1781 – against his father's wishes – to pursue a freelance career and where he married Constanze Weber the following year.
What becomes evident from this set is that Mozart packed a phenomenal amount into his 35 years, a life that was often dominated by obsessive overwork, particularly towards the end. Moreover, there was not a genre akin to the period that he neglected nor did not achieve success in (in this collection the works are ordered as such, traversing orchestral music, chamber music, solo instrumental music, sacred music and vocal music), and in many cases he effected transformation, attaining new artistic levels – this is particularly evident in the piano concertos that begin the compendium, remarkable for their diversity of character, and the concluding mature operas, works that achieved new depths of musical characterisation. A more varied, colourful output you could not find, one that is enhanced in this release by the multitude of talented performers assembled.
At a bargain price, this 170-CD box set is not to be missed, affording hours of pleasurable listening that will satisfy both Mozart aficionado and novice.
R E V I E W S:
It says something about how the recording industry has changed that just a decade or so after Philips released its complete Mozart Edition to general acclaim, this new one appears at super-budget price, and it's just as good. Hopefully its various components will remain in print longer than the Universal titles, for some of them are very good indeed. This includes the complete symphonies featuring Jaap Ter Linden and the Mozart Akademie Amsterdam on period instruments (this latter also available separately on SACD), as well as the piano concertos with Derek Han and the Philharmonia under Paul Freeman. Both the string quartets and quintets are very well done by such groups as the Brandis and Orlando quartets, and you get Kuijken in the three great Italian comic operas (Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosí), as well as Mackerras' stylish Telarc performance of The Magic Flute.
We've already reviewed several of the early operas, very nicely done by Musica ad Rhenum under Jad Wentz. In short, this edition offers about a 50/50 mix of pre-existing material and new performances, and such is the quality of Mozart performance today that you can purchase this 170-CD set with complete confidence. It also comes with an introductory CD containing notes, sung texts for the sacred and miscellaneous vocal works, and all of the opera librettos. Whether you will want this much Mozart is very much a matter of personal choice; certainly most of his early stuff is pretty ephemeral, but it's also just plain pretty, and unfailingly pleasant. Granted, you can do as well or better with individual performances of the well-known masterworks, but taken as a whole this remains impressive, and quite a bargain.
– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com, reviewing an earlier edition of Brilliant Classics' Mozart Complete Works
Catalog Number: BRI95010
Label: Brilliant Classics
Number of Discs: 170