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MOZART: Serenade in B flat major, “Gran Partita”; HAYDN: Notturno No. 8 – Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ens./ Trevor Pinnock – Linn

MOZART: Serenade in B flat major, K. 361, “Gran Partita”; HAYDN Notturno No. 8 in G major – Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble/ Trevor Pinnock – Linn multichannel SACD CKD516, 60 mins. (4/8/16) (Distr. by Naxos) *****: 

A fine hi-res surround recording of the Mozart Gran Partita, on modern instruments.

The collaboration between Trevor Pinnock and the modern-instrument Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble proves to be mutually beneficial. He inspires 20 professionals  of tomorrow – and many already of today – to explore and flesh out their historically-informed stylistic instincts under the guidance of an iconic expert in the music he loves best. In return for his authority and experience, they give him a warmth in their virtuosity that amounts in Mozart’s very seductive Serenade, to sex appeal.

That this is also the first time Pinnock, who has recorded a lot of Mozart, has recorded the big Serenade, makes it feel like the recording was close to his heart; it must have been particularly gratifying to have the opportunity to record with students whose own artistic profiles he had helped develop in the context of their historical research. Whether they played original instruments or not.

The fact they they do not play original instruments (at least in this band), allowed them to handle the notoriously unwieldy fast parts whenever they occur, and turn like quicksilver to new activities and moods. They were also able to float the most heavenly parts of the slow movements; they were naively serious, too, and didn’t quite find the humor In the Theme and Variations movement. Otherwise, they were bright and attentive, and always amorous, in particular contrabassoonist Alice Quayle and the two oboists.

Overall, this is very much a typical Linn presentation: even the pixelated use of Klimt’s sublime, impressionist waterscape The Schloss Kammer on the Attersee III in the booklet, is very much in line with the softer accents in this generally lively performance. The sound is quite lovely in two channels and opens up into something close to breathtaking in multichannel mode. Timothy Jones’ liner notes are highly entertaining, as is the harmless Haydn Notturno, one of nine which benefits from the musicians’ cheerful energy.

—Laurence Vittes

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