Sigiswald Kuijken has been active in the authenticity movement in classical music for over twenty years. He established his Kuijken String Quartet in 1986. For this Mozart disc, Kuijken and ensemble combine with three talented wind players to present some of Mozart’s most idiomatic chamber works. It was written in 1789 for Anton Stadler, like Mozart a Freemason. The slightly antique sound of the gut strings conspires with the clarinet, French horn and oboe to impart an intimate, almost medieval sonority on Mozart’s refined melodies, some of which partake of a Masonic character and number symbolism. I suppose I am thinking particularly of the Larghetto of the Clarinet Quintet, which possesses a liquid stasis, if one can permit the paradox. The second trio of the Menuetto allows Coppola’s clarinetto d’amore’s chalumeau register a Tyrolean, Alpine excursion. The olden sound of the strings contribute to the rustic, Breughel-like beauty of the moment. The lithe and inventive Allegretto and five variations display the magnificent equality of the part-writing, especially in the violin and viola.
A miniature concerto for horn and strings, Mozart’s Horn Quintet (1782) for Ignaz Leutgeb, but even more for the newly created valved horn, introduced around 1770. Pierre-Yves Madeuf negotiates the required runs and turns with musical aplomb and a full-toned resonance, the surround-sound ambiance of the sonic separation’s having more of an impact on my audio experience than had the Clarinet Quintet. No one can compare to my cherished Dennis Brain renditions of this charming work, with its hunting motifs, but this is a hearty account, given the scholarly approach. The little cadenza before the last movement final statement and contrapuntal coda has Madeuf spread his feathers most effectively.
The 1781 Oboe Quartet was composed for Friedrich Ramm of the Mannhein Orchestra, who obviously commanded a superb tone and fine control of the oboe’s upper registers. Mr. Beuarigaud specializes in Baroque oboe and plays with obvious delight in the sounds Mozart arranged for his chosen instrument. Subtle integration of the parts minimizes the concertante element – the D Minor Adagio lasts only 38 bars. In this realization, it sounds like a transcription of a medieval motet. The real test, however, is the last movement – another hunting-motif which pushes 4/4 time in the oboe against the strings‚ oblivious 6/8 chugging, resolved mid-bar back in the tonic major. The punishing leaps and metric anomalies notwithstanding, Beaurigaud and the Kuijken Quartet make wonderful sense of a work that gave Mozart only pleasure to compose. Delicious!