MOZART: “Oboenspitze” – Quintet No. 2 in C minor KV 406/516b (arr. for oboe & strings); Sinfonia concertante in E flat Major for violin, viola & orchestra KV 364 (transcribed for flute/oboe/orch. by Alexei Utkin) – Hermitage Chamber Orchestra/Alexei Utkin – Caro Mitis multichannel SACD CM 0082006, 58:18 **** [Distr. by Albany]:
The Caro Mitis label is changing our impression about the lack of early music in today’s Russia, but it has also had a number of releases of works from later periods. This is their second volume of Mozart works involving the oboe. [Here’s our review of volume one.] The Second Quintet features in this transcription the oboe soloist taking the part of the lead violin, with the other players still a string quartet but with two violas instead of two violins. The work was described by Mozart as a “Nacht Musique” in its original form for wind ensemble. He later arranged it himself for a string sextet; it’s not known why, or why the work is so much darker and elegiac than the usual classy background music of his serenades.
The replacement of the violin and viola with flute and oboe works smashingly in the Sinfonia concertante. Mozart wrote the work while in Paris and possibly influenced by Gluck’s operas. This form was usually restricted to just two movements at a quick tempo, since it was felt that audiences at big public concerts couldn’t concentrate and would become bored with slower music, but Mozart – always the innovator – inserted a central Andante movement. Utkin – as demonstrated on previous Caro Mitis SACDs – is a topflight oboist, and the recording – engineered by Polyhymnia, who also do most of the PentaTone DSD recordings – is of top-level hi-res surround.
– John Sunier