performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields under Sir Neville Marriner, or below with The Academy of Ancient Music under Christopher Hogwood
There are only two full sentences on Wikipedia for today’s symphony, and the first one, rivetingly, reads:
Exciting things, for sure. The second sentence tells us that it’s scored for two flutes, two horns, and strings. We lose the trumpets from no. 20, and the oboes. It was written about a month later than its predecessor(s), in August of 1772, the last (officially numbered) symphony he would write that year.
The allegro first movement is in 3/4 and sounds minuet-ish, and I don’t really have a lot else to say about it. Notably, his symphonic movements are getting longer, but not as muc here.
The andante second movement stands out to me as a warm, compelling, beautiful expression.
The third movement is unsurprisingly our minuet, and it’s very… minuet-ish, classically dainty and lighthearted.
I just don’t have anything terribly insightful or compelling to say about this symphony.
And then there’s the finale. Listen to its clucky, then crunchy opening. This is very interesting. The Academy’s recording goes from quiet shivers to a roar of strings in no time flat, and it’s the first inkling I have in this symphony of piqued interest aside from some pretty moments in the previous three movements. Don’t get me wrong, the symphonies are well-written, this one included, and remember, he’s only 16 years old at the time. But especially taking them in groups like this, it might seem as if there wasn’t a lot of variation among them.
At least for the nineteenth, we got something that I felt was truly, profoundly pleasant. It’s nothing that’s going to bring a tear to the eye, or even goosebumps, but it was exquisitely nice. The 20th gives us some interesting innovations and a bit more personality. It seems that Mozart saved all his excitement for the finale of 21, which whispers, clucks, roars, gallops, for a quick but very fun little ride.
Maybe it’s good he took a little break from the symphony at this point. He’d written them throughout the summer, and there are at least two or three unnumbered symphonies written between the officially-numbered 20 and 21, so maybe it was about time to take a breather from the form and move on to something else.
And that’s what we’re going to do for now, at least with Mozart. We’re breaking with the Thursday tradition and posting on every day this week but Thursday, but there’s something big coming Friday, so do stay tuned for that, and a bit more Mozart afterward. Thanks for reading.