This post was directly triggered by a question I got to my last post on Mozart’s Violin Sonatas:
To quote jpas1954:
If someone, like me, wanted to listen to Mozart but didn’t know where to start, what would you recommend?
I figured instead of hiding it in the blog comments, I may as well make a post out of it.
So here we go.
The first 3 I already immediately answered from the top of my head, now a post with some additional recommendations,based on some more thinking about it.
The Clarinet Concerto
Take the second movement of the clarinet concerto, and you’re in heaven. The brillian Clarinetist Martin Fröst has recorded this twice, I prefer his second recording with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie. On top of the clarient concerto, you also get the beautiful Kegelstatt Trio, and a less well known Allegro, with brilliant guests such as Leif-Ove Ansdnes or Janine Jansen.
The Late Symphonies
For a newbie, I’d focus on the late symphonies 38-41, with the famous no. 40 a-minor and no. 41 “Jupiter”. My favorite version is by Charles Mackerras. He also has recorded the symphonies twice, once in Prague, once with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. I prefer the latter, but the former is a good one if you want to get all 41 symphonies rather cheaply (and still very well played).
Piano Concerto no. 20 & 25
So many good recordings out there. But as I just admire Martha Argerich very much, I had to put this one out there. Is it the best? Probably not, but it is very special, and one of the last recordings of Maestro Abbado.
Good alternatives on fortepiano include Bezuidenhout and Brautigam, and on modern piano the Perahia recordings are also outstanding.
The Violin Concertos
Again Abbado with his own Orchestra Mozart, and this time the brilliant Giuliano Carmignola (see my review of his outstanding Four Seasons here), have recorded one of the best versions of the violin concertos and Sinfonia Concertante out there.
Another very good version is Richard Tognetti with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Solo Piano Works
Kristian Bezuidenhout is one of the best Mozart players of these days. His latest release of the complete piano works, vol. 7, is particularly well-played.
For modern piano, try Uchida or Brendel.
Sadly, never finished, so you only get versions that were completed by others, like Mozart’s pupil Süssmayr.
Again, so many great versions out there; this recent release by the Dunedin Consort is excellent both on the playing and on the recording quality.
Alternatives include Gardiner, Harnoncourt, and many others.
The Violin Sonatas
See my previous post on Rachel Podger.
And finally, the Operas: Idomeneo
i’ll certainly write more about my favorite operas Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Cosi Fan Tutte (see my review of Nézet-Séguins version here) in the future, all are absolute must-haves. Let me promote here the Opera that was Mozart’s own favorite apparently (at least some booklet told me at some point): Idomeneo
René Jacobs Mozart is always worth discovering, not always very orthodox, but certainly exciting.
This one is really very good, and is among the top Idomeneos out there.
This is certainly only an early starting point.
I still need to write about the string quartets, the Great Mass in c-minor, the piano quartets, the horn concertos, etc. etc. etc.
But you need to start somewhere, and for a newbie, you probably have an excellent starting point here.
Please add and suggest other alternatives in the comments!
You can find the recordings here:
Clarinet Concerto: here
Piano concerto: here
Violin Concertos: here
Solo piano: here
Mozart Requiem: here