EMI's Debut series of recordings is a laudable attempt
to give exposure to young artists of outstanding ability. During recent
years the tours of the Brindisi Quartet has brought their work to the
attention of the discerning musical public, and this beautifully recorded
CD serves their already significant reputation well.
The Brindisi players combine with young British wind
players of proven quality: Jaime Martin (flute), Jonathan Kelly (oboe)
and Nicholas Carpenter (clarinet). All three performances - Flute Quartet,
Oboe Quartet, Clarinet Quartet - offer some distinguished playing with
well judged phrasing and tempi, the clear headed textures sensitively
captured by the EMI engineers in their prime studio location in London.
The textures have much in common across the three performances,
in fact. Rarely can one hear all the strands of complex texture, even
in chamber music recordings, but all praise to EMI for the clarity they
have achieved here. In particular the two earlier pieces, featuring
the flute and the oboe, gain from the fleetness of phrasing and the
beautifully clear articulation, and it was an imaginative programming
ploy to place them together on a disc with the great Clarinet Quintet.
It is surprising how seldom this pairing has been offered.
It is in the Clarinet Quintet that a few caveats raise
their heads, albeit relatively minor ones. Whereas the lightness of
touch suits the young Mozart admirably, the music of his final year
is altogether more complex. That complexity is not denied us, of course,
but in truth this remains a relatively lightweight performance, with
cleanly articulated lines but less gravitas than the music can take.
Such a view is altogether possible, and the effect is nothing if not
convincing; but having said that, there are many alternative performances,
in a crowded market, which find more depth and spirituality. For while
there is skill in abundance on display here, this music can be more
emotionally complex and darkly expressive than this.