Trevor Pinnock's set of Mozart symphonies, recorded between 1992 and early 1995, was greeted warmly upon its release in three separate volumes (the last volume typically never made it to U.S. shores as a domestic release) and Universal has seen fit to re-issue it in an 11-CD box as part of its Collectors Edition series. While the general public honed its "historically informed" ear on the pioneering compilation set by Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music in the mid-1980s, Pinnock's later account, the second such to use period instruments, showed just how much more refined and skillful period-instrument playing was to become.
Leonard Bernstein's Late Mozart Symphony recordings come from the 1980s when the market was deluged with "authentic" and "period" style offerings from the likes of Trevor Pinnock and Christopher Hogwood. Bernstein, never a slave to fashion, conjured up some wonderfully "old fashioned" performances, full of rich orchestral sonorities, generous helpings of vibrato, and unabashedly romantic pacing, phrasing, and rubato… Even with the pile of Mozart symphony discs on the market, Bernstein's compelling renditions easily command your attention and warrant your purchase. - Victor Carr Jr, classicstoday.com
These are the first recordings of late symphonies by G.B. Sammartini, ‘the father of the classical style’.
Although Sammartini laid the foundations of the symphony his works are virtually unknown. In Italy the Arcadia Foundation seeks to correct this. The Sammartini project set out to publish and catalogue the composer’s works. Another aim is to perform and record previously unpublished works, including the late symphonies. There are 68 symphonies attributed to Sammartini with certainty. Another 74 might be by him as well.
Stylish performances by the Accademia d’Arcadia on period instruments under Alessandra Rossi Lürig. These first recordings offer a most enjoyable and interesting insight into this unjustly neglected composer.
Giovanni Battista Sammartini (1700 or 1701 – 15 January 1775) was an Italian composer, organist, choirmaster and teacher. He counted Gluck among his students, and was highly regarded by younger composers including Johann Christian Bach. It has also been noted that many stylizations in Joseph Haydn's compositions are similar to those of Sammartini, although Haydn denied any such influence. Sammartini is especially associated with the formation of the concert symphony through both the shift from a brief opera-overture style and the introduction of a new seriousness and use of thematic development that prefigure Haydn and Mozart. Some of his works are described as galant, a style associated with Enlightenment ideals, while "the prevailing impression left by Sammartini's work… [is that] he contributed greatly to the development of a Classical style that achieved its moment of greatest clarity precisely when his long, active life was approaching its end"
"…This is what might be called big band Mozart, with none of the modern early music refinements coming into play as in the cycles of Pinnock or Hogwood. This is Mozart on modern instruments in a large-sized orchestra – not just 40 musicians like some so-called “authentic” recordings. On the other hand, Klemperer has a different approach to this music that he obviously adored and was fully familiar with. While cycles by Mackerras, Bohm, Karajan, Bruno Walter and others may compete in some ways, Klemperer’s efforts stand up amazingly well now that one can hear details in the recordings which were never exposed before except in the mastering studio." ~audiophile-audition
Granted, there are better individual performances of the various symphonies from conductors as diverse as Eugen Jochum, Leonard Bernstein, Trevor Pinnock, and Thomas Fey; but when all is said and done this remains the finest complete set of Haydn symphonies yet recorded, and its basic musicality only seems to grow more impressive over time.