Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra/Bolton, Cadogan Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

Mozart's music sat well in the Cadogan Hall, particularly performed by the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra. Founded in 1841, this is one of Austria's oldest orchestras. It plays at the full strength of a symphony orchestra, but for this short tour of the UK, numbers were reduced to the proportions of a chamber orchestra.

In perfectly symmetrical programme planning, each half consisted of a symphony and a concerto, both of the latter calling on the orchestra's section principal as soloist. Mozart is one of those composers whose work still divides opinion as to the style and size of orchestras when performing it. This orchestra's chamber proportion worked admirably, as did the playing of the strings with (in the main) light, fast bowing with the merest hint of vibrato.

However, the use of metal strings and valve horns set it apart from the "authentic" brigade. Setting the orchestra even more apart were the tempi. Under its principal conductor Ivor Bolton, many a movement was surprisingly sluggish, not least the first movement of Mozart's 34th Symphony, marked allegro vivace, with which the concert began.

Mozart's 34th was probably written simultaneously with Idomeneo, and, in a work of generally sunny disposition, the dark, melancholic moments that frequently occur throughout remind us of its proximity to the opera. Lovely swelling phrases of tenderness in the slow movement, followed by extroverted "babbling brook" brilliance in the last, belie the fact that Mozart loathed Salzburg and that this was his final symphony written in the town.

Mozart's flute and horn concertos are generally regarded as less accomplished. But in the playing of Bernhard Krabatsch, the G major concerto could have been counted alongside the piano concertos. Krabatsch has the most limpid of tones, with wonderfully expressive phrasing and articulation.

Less so the horn soloist, Johannes Hinterholzer, whose biography stressed his special interest in playing non-valved instruments, but who, nevertheless, played a valved one. True, Mozart's rapid scales and other passage work make valves tempting, but his performance of Mozart's E flat concerto was staid and not entirely incident-free.

A sedate performance of Mozart's 40th Symphony rounded off the concert.