MOZART: Chamber Music for Winds and Strings – Clarinet Quintet K581; Horn Quintet K407; Oboe Quartet K370; Flute Quartet K298 – Boston Symphony Chamber Players – BSO Classics

by | Dec 9, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Chamber Music for Winds and Strings – Clarinet Quintet K581; Horn Quintet K407; Oboe Quartet K370; Flute Quartet K298 – Boston Symphony Chamber Players – BSO Classics multichannel SACD 0601, 76:39 *****:

The Boston Symphony Chamber Players is one of the most distinguished chamber music groups in the world.  They have made many concert appearances as well as recordings.  Founded in 1964, they can perform virtually any work in the vast chamber music repertory, and expand their range by calling on other BSO players or distinguished artists such as their music director James Levine, who has performed as pianist on numerous recordings.

Although the Boston Symphony Chamber Players have made made recordings for various labels, this is their first entirely on their own with the BSO, and as with many similar projects that have come about in the last few years, they are releasing hybrid SACDs. The eight members of the ensemble are joined by principal violaist of the BSO Cathy Basrak in this excellent program of four Mozart chamber works for winds and strings. Three of the four were created for performer friends of the composer with whose artistry Mozart was familiar.

The Clarinet Quintet is the longest work and the only one in four movements instead of three. Its opening and closing movements are nearly ten minutes each. Anton Stadler was the virtuoso for whom the work was created. The work was written to make use of his skill in playing in the low register of the clarinet.  The horn quintet and oboe quarter are earlier works taking similar form of three movements. The latter is known for its short but deeply expressive aria-like Adagio movement, and the horn quintet has been called by some critics a miniature horn concerto due to its similarity to the four Mozart horn concertos.  The Flute Quartet in A Major had a different origin from the three earlier flute quartets Mozart had written for the flutist Johann Baptist Wendling. He wrote this one as Hausmusik for gatherings at the home of a musical family, the Jacquins, and it has a different character from the other three works.

The hi-res multichannel sound leans toward an almost literal surrounding of the listener by the instruments, which I don’t find a bit disturbing but most involving.

 – John Sunier

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