Would I have known that these performances were conductorless? Probably not, though I have to say that, had I been fooled, I might have characterised the maestro in question as an energetic, keen-eared, but somewhat cool customer. The music-making is terrifically vital - make no mistake. There are no passengers in this band: the individuality, the personality and profile of their personnel ensures that every part is alive and kicking. Inner-parts leap from the page, the sense of momentum and climax is unerring. Symphony No 40, the popular G minor, is urgent and fearful, the palpitating ostinato in divisi violas at once disturbed and disturbing (how tired and predictable it can sound when carrying too much weight). It's a darkly operatic piece once more (is there a more anxious, searching development in all of Mozart than this first movement?).
Even the high-spirited finale (and just listen to those fiery exchanges between the upper and lower strings) sounds truculent. Which is not to say that Orpheus don't know how to enjoy themselves. Their engaging account of No 29 is full of charm and surprise (witness the high-wire antics of the horns in the finale). But I wonder if someone from outside their number might have coaxed a warmer and more compliant, a more single-minded, a more personal approach to the slow movements. I wonder.Reuse content