MOZART: Sinfonia Concertante for Winds in E-flat Major, K. 297b; Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, K. 299 – Lucas Macias Navarro, oboe/ Alessandro Carbonare, clarinet/ Guilhaume Santana, bassoon/ Alessio Allegrini, horn/ Jacques Zoon, flute/ Letizia Belmondo, harp/ Orchestra Mozart/ Claudio Abbado – DGG 477 9329, 54: 55 ****:
Having suffered the effects of cancer and prolonged treatment, conductor Claudio Abbado (b. 1933) has generally “retired” from his major posts, feeling that he has well earned the right to make music on his own terms. Actor Bruno Ganz, a devoted and longtime friend, describes Abbado in virtually saintly terms. These Mozart inscriptions from June 2008 with Abbado’s hand-picked Mozart Orchestra celebrate two of the composer’s most prominent and individually colorful wind ensembles from 1778, when Mozart filled commissions based in Paris.
The Sinfonia Concertante’s three movements were conceived specifically for virtuosi contemporary with Mozart, not the least of whom was Jan Vaclav Stich (aka Giovanni Punto), the horn player who once benefited from a piano accompanist named Beethoven.
The full blooded playing that informs the Sinfonia’s three movements does not require intense verbal reconstruction. The brio that invests each movement has the benefit of canny tempos and articulate intonation at each turn. The bassoon work by Guilhaume Santana, assisted by beguiling figures from oboe Lucas Macias Navarro, well justify the price of admission.
The etiology of the Flute and Harp Concerto, conceived for Adrien-Louis Bonnieres de Souastre, Duc de Guines, and his talented harpist daughter, remains fascinating. The incredible light textures of the first movement suggest a kind of rarified celestial gauze made of angels’ wings. Considering the piece represents Mozart’s first writing for the flute, the filigree suit’s the instrument in the manner of the most sophisticated of French salon pieces. The exuberant lyricism of the first movement Allegro enjoys the plaintive dialogues of its two major themes that proceed without contrapuntal development. The Andantino, which opens with strings alone and divisi violas, offers a chromatic feast, comparable to the elegant siciliani we find in Bach and Handel. A regal spirit informs the entire movement, which reaches a richly endowed flourish at movement’s end. Even composer Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf expressed awe at Mozart’s Rondeau: Allegro, which he claimed outdoes itself in melodic ideas so quickly that one glorious idea supplants the last before we have fully grasped it. The writing for French horn proves not only brisk but musically exacting. Last but not least, every sort of kudos to harp soloist Letizia Belmondo, who attuned herself to fine flute soloist Zoon with canny grace, effortless and eminently spellbinding. Would anyone believe Mozart never received payment for this glory to his art, this “genius of obedience,” as one biographer characterizes him?
Brahms Violin Concerto; Schumann Symphony No. 2 – Henryk Szeryng, Carl Schuricht – Forgotten Records
Two stellar, musical personalities in live concert