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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-91)
Flute Concertosa - No. 1 in D, K313/285c; No. 2 in D, K314. Concerto for Flute and Harp in C, K299/297cb.
Karlheinz Zöller (flute); bNocanor Zabaleta (harp); aEnglish Chamber Orchestra/Bernhard Klee; bBerlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Ernst Märzendorfer.
Recorded aDecember 1972, Watford Town Hall, bOctober 1962, Berlin.
DG Galleria 469 553-2 [ADD] [74.04]
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Mozart's concertos involving the flute make for gracious, life enhancing listening: this despite the composer's stated dislike for the instrument. The finale of the first concerto (K313/285c), for example, is civility itself, as gallant a Tempo di Menuetto as one can find. Here, as elsewhere on this disc, Karlheinz Zöller is a musical and able guide. The performances of both of the solo concertos (originally on DG 2530 334) triumph over the slightly over-reverberant recording to communicate to a large extent the inner life of these pieces. One must be prepared to re-enter an earlier world of performance practice, however. The textures of the Adagio ma non troppo of the first concerto are muddied by a certain heaviness of orchestral string tone, made all the more frustrating by the fact that the tempo seems near ideal.

Whilst Zöller can nevertheless provide much enjoyment by virtue of his innate musicality, he cannot rescue the over-long cadenza to the first movement of the second concerto (by R. Müller-Dombois), guaranteed to stretch the patience of all but the most ardent of Herr Zöller's fans.

Ironically, the Flute and Harp Concerto, recorded a decade earlier (issued on SLPM138853), seems lighter and truer to the freshness at the heart of any true Mozart performance. Listen to the violin articulation during the opening tutti, for example. But what distinguishes this performance from the solo concertos the sheer joy of the music making. The soloists interact superbly with each other; the phrasing in the Andantino is a delight and the cadenza in the concluding Rondeau (Reinecke's) is just the right length.

At mid-price, one has to balance whether it is worth the outlay for, basically, the Flute and Harp Concerto alone. Of modern performances (if not with exactly the same coupling), Emmanuel Pahud and the Berlin Philharmonic under Abbado in the first concerto (who are joined by Marie-Pierre Langlamet for the Flute and Harp Concerto) provide an excellent, if dearer, alternative (EMI CDC5 57128-2). Galway (with Robles, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Marriner and offering exactly Zöller's coupling) is ever musical and fresh (RCA Red Seal 09026 68256-2).

By the way, why does DG spell Zöller 'Zoeller' on the front cover and then 'Zöller' everywhere else? This spoils the otherwise perfectly acceptable presentation.

Colin Clarke

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