> Mozart, Stadler basset horn [TB]: Classical Reviews- May 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Three Divertimenti on The Marriage of Figaro, for three basset horns
Adagio canonique, K484d
Adagio, K411
Allegro assai, K484b
Adagio, K580a
Adagio, K484c
Anton STADLER (1753-1812)

Terzetten for three basset horns
Jean-Claude Veilhan (clarinet and basset horn). Eric Lorho (basset horn), Jean-Louis Gauche (basset horn), Catherine Delaunay (clarinet), Jean Jeltsch (basset horn)
Rec 29 June to 1 July 1995, Chapelle Notre-Dame de l'Hor, Moselle
K617 K617060 M7 865 [64.19]
CD available for post-free online mail-order or you may download individual tracks. For some labels you can download the entire CD with a single click and make HUGE savings. The price you see is the price you pay! The full booklet notes are available on-line.

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No musical relationship was more important to Mozart during his Viennese years than his friendship with the clarinettist Anton Stadler. The latter particularly specialised in playing the basset clarinet and basset horn. These instruments, with their rich, dark colourings, made a strong impression on many of Mozart's compositions. These included the operas The Magic Flute and La clemenza di Tito, and of course the celebrated Clarinet Concerto.

All this being the case, the repertoire on this disc has a particular historical interest, since it features both Mozart and Stadler. Mozart was a huge admirer of the 'harmonie', or wind band, because of the calibre of the musicians he encountered in Vienna, and again and again he gave special opportunities to these players, in orchestral music such as the great piano concertos, or in specially composed or arranged chamber music pieces.

We should not cavil at the thought of these arrangements from the opera The Marriage of Figaro (try Track 3: 0.00, Non piu andrai). Such an approach was common currency during Mozart's lifetime, since it brought new music before a wider public. The featured extracts are delightfully done, and set the tone for the whole recital, combining bubbling vivacity and clear articulation. Whether or not Mozart arranged the music himself is not known, but then the spirit of the times sometimes allowed for teamwork among creative artists.

The other Mozart items are purely instrumental, though some of these too are arrangements, this time of string music which itself relates back to keyboard works by Bach (try TRACK 22: 0.00). All these matters are clearly articulated in the detailed insert notes, which are well presented and translated. The layout of the booklet is also highly effective.

The remaining music takes the form of a sequence of eighteen short wind trios by Stadler. Here it is noticeable that technique takes a high priority, but the players are up to the challenge and their performances are exemplary (try TRACK 5: 0.00). The insert note suggests that these pieces are all recorded here for the first time, in which case this disc is an important document.

This may not be great music but it is all very interesting and full of vitality in performance terms. The recordings are clear and accurate, if sometimes rather close. While it is unlikely that a full play-through of the disc will bring enormous rewards, it is well worth hearing, both from the historical point of view and as a delightful diversion from the cares of life.

Terry Barfoot

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