It’s a nearly impossible task. Picking a favorite, a top 5, or a top 100 out of Mozart's immense catalog of music is no small feat, and it’s not one that any single person could do by themself. That’s why we turned to all WFMT hosts, producers, staff, and more to weigh in on their best-loved Mozart pieces and recordings. We hope you’ll enjoy our ranking of Mozart’s top 10 works.
11. Great Mass in C Minor, K. 427/417a — (tie)
When looking for a great recording of the Mass in C minor, it’s all about the Soprano I soloist who sings the Kyrie and Et incarnatus est. Luckily there are many outstanding recordings to choose from. I recommend Barbara Bonney with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic [Spotify/Apple Music] for purity of tone and immaculate intonation. Arleen Auger has divine breath control (recorded Soprano I three times!) [Spotify 1 2 3/Apple Music 1 2 3]. Barbara Hendricks offers a little more humanity in the sound — imperfect but passionately sung; Hendricks recorded the Great Mass twice: with Dresden Staatskappelle with Peter Schreier [Spotify/Apple Music] and the Berlin Philharmonic with Herbert von Karajan [Spotify/Apple Music]. Or how about one of the OG Mozartians of the post-war era, Maria Stader, who recorded with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ferenc Fricsay [Spotify/Apple Music]? — Oliver Camacho, music director
11. Horn Concerto No. 4 in E-flat Major, K. 495 — (tie)
11. Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A Major, K. 581 — (tie)
8. Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550
7. Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Serenade No. 13, K. 525 — (tie)
7. “Gran Partita” Serenade No. 10 for Winds in B-flat Major, K. 361/370a — (tie)
5. Die Zaubertflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620
4. Don Giovanni, K. 527
3. Requiem, K. 626
2. Jupiter Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551
1. Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), K. 492
It is nearly impossible to beat the cast assembled for the Decca recording of Figaro conducted by Georg Solti. Te Kanawa, a luscious and tragic Countess at the peak of her expressive powers; Lucia Popp with perfect intonation and sparkle in her voice as Susanna; Frederica von Stade (has there ever been a more charming Cherubino?); Samuel Ramey — another iconic American singer with an unmistakable tone — as Figaro; and Thomas Allen as an erudite, determined Count. There are more stylish and briskly paced sets that have come out since its 1982 release, but none with such a deep roster of greats. [Spotify/Apple Music] — Oliver Camacho, music director
ALSO RECEIVING VOTES:
Piano Concerto No. 24; Symphony No. 39; Così fan tutte; Clarinet Concerto
What do you think about our list? Let us know in the comments section below, and click here to cast your vote for Mozart’s top 10 works!
WFMT contributors’ responses have been lightly edited for clarity.