> Mozart - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik [JL]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 in G) K525
Bassoon Concerto in B flat K191*
Divertimento in D K136
Divertimento in B flat K137
Divertimento in F K138
Yoshiyuki Nakanishi (bassoon)
London Mozart Players/Jane Glover
Rec London 1988 (*rec London 1984)


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This is a collection of Eighteenth Century, post-baroque "light" music. Barrow loads of such music were written in the period, but since the music here is by Mozart it is in a quite different league. Most of the contents of those barrows have been consigned to oblivion but here we have music that is worthy of our full attention even though it was written for occasions where people were probably talking over it, hardly noticing it was there. The exception is the Bassoon Concerto which may have been commissioned by an amateur player, court musician or visiting virtuoso and performed in the salon of a rich patron in concert conditions. My speculation. We do not know.

The other pieces on the disc, a serenade and a set of three divertimenti, were, like cassations and nocturnes, no doubt written as background music for some such event as an aristocratic summer soirée. They are exceptional among Mozartís output of this type of music in that they are for strings alone. Most of the other occasional pieces were for mixed ensemble or for wind alone which would make them more suitable for open air performance.

The odd one out, the Bassoon Concerto, written when Mozart was eighteen, I described as "light" in the sense that it is not in the same class as the great clarinet concerto and is no more ambitious in scope than the Serenade. It is in the easy galant style of the time, the influence of J C Bach, who Mozart admired and had met in London, very evident. Yoshiyuki Nakanishi negotiates the difficulties of the rondo finale with ease but most enjoyment will be found in the beauties of the slow movement where the splendid strings of the London Mozart Players impart just the right singing legato to this quasi-operatic music.

The Serenadeís title of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, given by Mozart himself, suggests that the music must have been written for a soirée. We know that it had a fifth movement which is now lost so what we are left with is in effect a classic, four movement string symphony with a first movement in text book sonata form Ė years before the text books had codified such a thing. Jane Glover and her superbly disciplined ensemble serve up as fine a performance as one could wish for what is one of Mozartís most popular works. There is a mixture of legato, springing joie de vivre and elegance of phrasing that produces a delightful result.

It is a style that serves the youthful Divertimenti very well. Again, nothing is known of their provenance except that they were written in between trips to Italy and nicknamed "The Salzburg Symphonies". In fact they are probably best thought of as light string quartets in three movements. There is lovely music here and the opening allegro of the first Divertimento is, in my opinion, a masterpiece of its type and reminds one of that other work of a sixteen year old genius, the first movement of Mendelssohnís Octet, the finest evocation of youth ever written.

These performances from the mid-nineteen-eighties are a delight, collected here by EMI into a "Classics for Pleasure" disc that is a real bargain. The recorded sound is excellent.

John Leeman

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