Mozart’s Greatest Hits, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
From time to time I enjoy reviewing albums of classical music , and there is something greatly humorous about hearing a greatest hits album of a composer who lived and died long before the existence of hit radio or music charts of any kind. To be sure, it is clear that this is being marketed as a best of collection, although it is likely that the people who compiled this particular album did not want to imply that this music was necessarily better than Mozart’s other music, given that Mozart was a prolific composer whose music has a certain particular quality that lends itself to short excerpts such as this one. And while calling any of Mozart’s music hits is certainly a bit of a stretch, the concept works well enough here to be readily understood, as these songs are the sort of material that would be familiar to someone who only had a passing acquaintance with Mozart’s music rather than someone who was familiar with the vastly more prolific body of work from this composer, and that is precisely what a greatest hits album provides, in this case, we get 9 tracks that take a bit more than an hour, making this a classical example of a greatest hits album. A track by track review follows:
Eine Kleine Nachtmusic – Allegro: This is one of Mozart’s most familiar pieces, and it is performed with skill and sensitivity here by the Camerata Academica with suitable contrast between loud and soft and considerable technical brilliance, which makes for a solid beginning to the album.
Piano Concerto No. 21, “Elvira Madigan” – Andante: Although not as familiar as the previous track, this particular number is charmingly played by the Mozart Festival Orchestra with Svetlana Stranceva doing a great job on the piano, and it makes for an intimate and beautiful performance that ought to be appreciated by even a casual fan of classical music.
Symphony No. 40 – Molto allegro: A very familiar movement from Mozart’s symphony, this particular movement is played by the London Festival Orchestra, and is well done, showing the album’s movement from fast to slow as a way of providing good pacing for the listener even as the song is an excellent rendition that would likely grace many public radio stations in their playlists.
Overture to “The Marriage Of Figaro”: The overture to one of Mozart’s most famous opera,s this song is performed energetically and skillfully by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, showing yet another world-class orchestra showing its skill in handling one of Mozart’s familiar songs in a way that brings pleasure to the listener.
Piano Sonata No. 11 – Rondo alla Turca: This lovely piece is played by Svetlana Stranceva on the piano with considerable sensitivity and passion and enthusiasm, and it makes for a pleasant second contribution from this talented pianist on a number that ought to be familiar to many of this album’s listeners.
Horn Concerto No. 2 – Rondo: This particular number is played by the Mozart Festival Orchestra (in their second contribution to this compilation) with Joseph Ducopin providing a solo French horn. Like many of the songs on this album, this particular rondo is upbeat and pleasant to listen to, the sort of music that would be played on public radio often.
Piano Concerto No. 20: Romance: This particular lovely piece, played by the Mozart Festival Orchestra with Svetlana Stranceva on the piano, lives up to its name with the sort of beautiful and romantic performance that would be placed on the soundtrack to a Jane Austen adaptation or something of that nature. It goes without saying that this number will join its fellow compilation members as being the sort of song that would be played on heavy rotation on classical music radio.
Clarinet Concerto in A Major – Allegro: This charming and beautiful song, the longest on the album, is played by the Mozart Festival Orchestra with Josè Ostrac as the solo pianist. Again, this song is one that would be familiar to even a casual fan of Mozart and the sort of song that would be played often in community orchestras and on classical radio.
Overture To “The Magic Flute”: The album is closed by a spirited and energetic performance of another overture to a familiar and beloved Mozart opera from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and one that is full of pleasure and obvious enjoyment for both the musicians as well as those who are listening to the tune.
In general, greatest hits albums are often less than the sum of their parts because the songs included lack the context in which they were originally a part of. If this is true of ordinary rock songs, it is especially true of classical songs where the context of the original piece is of the utmost importance. Nevertheless, these songs are well-known and sufficiently lovely that even though this context is lost, the album remains an enjoyable listen, although anyone who was truly a fan of Mozart would want to obtain a larger part of Mozart’s body of work than this one volume compilation that barely even scratches the surface of his music.
 See, for example: