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Interesting, iconic and iconoclastic recordings of The Prague Symphony.

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Have at it!

I just had a madeleine moment.

Many years ago I was driving at midnight though some rather glamorous parts of London, it was a Friday or Saturday night, midsummer. The streets were crowded with beautiful and rich people enjoying city life. And on the car radio was playing The Prague Symphony. And the combination of music and place made me very happy to be alive.

For no good reason, I just started listening to Herbert Blomstedt’s recording on Denon, and that sense of well-being returned very palpably. It made me think that I need to find a place in my life for Mozart’s symphonies again.

Spotted Horses:
I think I first came to love the symphony in a Bohm recording which I now consider rather prosaic. I really learned what it is about with the Harnoncourt, RCO, which I had on vinyl.

Pinnock, Kripps, Tate, Marriner.

That's probably the first Mozart symphony I distinctly remember hearing as a teenager. It was an LP of 38+39 with Sawallisch/Czech PO. I definitely got to know these two and even a few early ones before 40+41!
Almost 2 years ago I found that Sawallisch recording on CD (last 4 symphonies) but I think it's a bit too straightforward, good, but not very special. My first on CD was Harnoncourt/Concertgebouw. This certainly qualifies for excentric with large orchestra, Harnoncourtesque mannerisms slowish tempo in the first movement and all repeat, so it lasts almost 20 min...
The "classic" recommendation is Maag on Decca (ca. 1960). This is also rather straightforward but has more energy than Sawallisch and very good sound for the vintage, so its reputation is deserved. The later Maag with an Italian orchestra on Arts is a bit more flexible and lyrical, colorful smallish orchestra and also quite good.


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