MOZART: Clarinet Concerto (arr. as an Oboe d’amore Concerto by Alexei Utkin); Concertone K. 190 for 2 Violins and Orchestra (arr. for flute, oboe, violin, cello and orchestra by Mikhail and Alexei Utkin) – Maria Chepurina, flute/ Alexei Utkin, oboe and oboe d’amore/ Pyotr Nikiforov, violin/ Tigran Muradyan, cello/ Hermitage Chamber Orchestra – Caro Mitis multichannel SACD CM 0092007, 46:16 (Distr. by Albany) ***1/2:
This is the ninth installment in Russian virtuoso Alexei Utkin’s attempt to record all of Mozart’s music for oboe in chamber music and concertos, much of which has been transcriptions by Utkin himself. Whatever their provenance they have exhibited a uniformly high level of musical invention and beauty that certainly would have delighted Mozart himself.
Utkin’s “take” on the Clarinet Concerto results in very fast speeds for the outer movements, as if it were closer to the Oboe Quartet, and some noticeably hard work. And, except in the slow movement, a tendency to phone it in. Oddly, Utkin makes little use of the oboe d’amore’s wine-dark lower notes.
Occasionally Utkin can be heard breathing swiftly as his baton sends his charges into action. It is an amazingly detailed and articulate recording which, in the Concertone, which usually sounds a weak sister in Mozart’s panoply of grandeur, comes together to give the best performance I have ever heard. In a just world, this Russian performance of K. 190 would sweep the Grammys. Go figure.
The liner notes chart out Utkin’s justifications for making these arrangements but all you really have to do is listen to the Concertone.
— Laurence Vittes
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