My Must-have Mozart Albums

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.

Mozart Clarinet Concerto Kegelstatt Trio Martin Fröst Deutsche Kammerphilhamonie Bremen BIS

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).

Mozart Symphonies 38-41 Charles Mackerras Scottish Chamber Orchestra Linn 24 88

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.

Mozart Piano Concerto 25 & 20 Martha Argerich Claudio Abbado Orchestra Mozart

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.

Mozart Violin Concertos Giuliano Carmignola Claudio Abbado Orchestra Mozart DG Archiv

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.

Mozart Keyboard Music vol. 7 Kristian Bezuidenhout Harmonia Mundi

For modern piano, try Uchida or Brendel.

The Requiem

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.

Mozart Requiem Dunedin Consort John Butt Linn Records

Alternatives include Gardiner, Harnoncourt, and many others.

The Violin Sonatas

See my previous post on Rachel Podger.

Mozart Complete Violin Sonatas vol. 2 Rachel Podger Gary Cooper Channel Classics

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.

Mozart Idomeneo René Jacobs Freiburger Barockorchester Harmonia Mundi

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

Symphonies: here

Piano concerto: here

Violin Concertos: here

Solo piano: here

Mozart Requiem: here

Idomeneo: here

30 thoughts on “My Must-have Mozart Albums

  1. dechareli

    The Clarinet Concerto is a delight, true enough, but I would have included the opera “Die Entfügrung aus dem Serail” in the beginner’s list, simply because it is si different from all those other wirks mentioned. Mozart had quite a sense of humour, and I think this opera betrays his “jester” side! 🃏

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Musicophile Post author

      Honestly, I have a problem with that opera. I really never liked it. I’m trying right now again the latest recording with René Jacobs, but it still isn’t my cup of tea. And I can’t recommend something I personally don’t like. But you’re right, any Mozart Newbie should make up his or her own mind.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. dechareli

        That’s okay. Are you speaking German? The funny side of it works only in German. May be that is part of the reason you didn’t like it. I find ut remarkable that Mozart portrayed the Muslim prince Bassa Selim as the generous ruler taking the moral high ground instead if using his right of revenge over past injustice. Not an easy message at the time. The siege of Vienna happened only 100 years earlier.

        Liked by 1 person

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  3. Boris75

    Great list, to be sure, but personally my recommendation would be to start with the blockbusters: the Kleine Nachtmusik (Andrew Manze’s version is excellent), Die Zauberflöte (Georg Solti), Don Giovanni (Furtwängler on EMI), and Figaro (Karajan on EMI).

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Musicophile Post author

      Actually I just discovered it. The French magazine Diapason just reviewed it and liked it, and I agree her Rameau album is a lot of fun.

      Back to the Mozart: Downloading it right now on my Qobuz app so I can check it out. Will report back.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Musicophile Post author

        Ah, just discovered that Erato doesn’t like streaming. So even on Qobuz I only get 30 sec snippets. Hard to judge on those but first impression is quite positive. I’ll probably end up buying just to find out more.

        And I really like the new Cavalli album. The recent Pluhar albums were quite controversial but this one is really nice. A review is in the making.

        Like

      2. mkrzych

        Regarding Weber Sisters, it’s possibly the very good disc, but over the web when I’ve listened several times it sounds little bit with lack of energy, but maybe as you said it’s just 30s snippets, so hard to judge.

        Like

      3. jpas1954

        As the guy who inadvertently triggered this discussion, I sure am enjoying it. I can navigate my way around jazz, blues, rock, etc. I like classical but I’ve had a difficult time figuring out what to listen to except the most well-known ones. I’ll be sure to check out some of the pieces that have been mentioned thus far. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. danavarroli

    I must say that the string quintets are excellent pieces of chamber music and could be a good place to start with Mozart. Each one is filled with tuneful melodies and are a delight to listen to. Check out the Grumiaux Trio playing the cycle for a good set.

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    Reply
  5. Marcel Niquet

    Frankly, I don’t believe the an opera is the best proposition for a beginer wishing to explore Mozart’s music. Even if he put in some of the most beautifull pieces of his music.
    I would have suggest the complete set of the piano concertos, and Perahia would be my choice for the set as a whole.
    The symphony no.40 is a no brainer. My choice is Bruno Walter, Columbia Orch.
    The Violin Concertos while no.3 is very pleasing, can hardly be regarded as major works; not at all in the class of the Clarinet Concerto, a true masterpiece.
    But in the end, if I had to convince someone how great was that musical giant, I would urge him to listen to the Piano Sonata no. 8 in A minor, K.310 by Perahia; Gilels and also Helene Grimaud have recorded good versions

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Musicophile Post author

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I know, Idomeneo is not the most accessible opera. You have a point.

      I like Perahia very much as well.

      As much as I love Walter, he wouldn’t be my first choice for Mozart.

      Are the violin concertos not Mozart best works? Probably. But I still think they are worth discovering.

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