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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Concertos for clarinet, oboe and bassoon
1) Clarinet Concerto in A major K.622
Jacques Lancelot (clarinet)
Orchestre de chambre Jean-Francois Paillard/Jean-Francois Paillard
2) Oboe Concerto in C major K.314
Pierre Pierlot (oboe)
English Chamber Orchestra/Jean-Pierre Rampal
3) Bassoon Concerto in B flat major K.191
Paul Hongne (bassoon)
Orchestre Symphonique de Bamberg/Theodor Guschlbauer
No information on the recording venues or dates provided. ADD
WARNER CLASSICS APEX 2564 60820-2 [67:06]

Warner Classics have been trawling their extensive back catalogue to compile a release of three concertos for reed instruments with three different orchestras, conductors and soloists. Undoubtedly Mozartís concertos for piano take the limelight in terms of numbers of recordings and performances and overshadow the woodwind concertos. This is unfair as these are excellent works, rich in invention and lyricism, which I consider to be real gems of classical music.

The Clarinet Concerto K.622 (1791) is unquestionably the finest of the three works here and the most widely admired. In fact Mozartís writing for the clarinet reaches heights of sublime quality as also seen in the wonderful Clarinet Quintet K. 581 and the Clarinet Quartet K.374f. The Clarinet Concerto was written specifically for Anton Stadler and was Mozartís final concerto in any form, being completed just two weeks before the composerís death in 1791. The work was originally conceived as a concerto for basset-horn and then for a basset-clarinet before its final adaptation as a Clarinet Concerto.

The clarinet soloist Jacques Lancelot is in excellent form in a concerto that has been described as one of Mozartís, "most sublime and consummate achievements." Lancelot easily provides the necessary sense of ebullience and youthful vitality in the Allegro and is charming and persuasive in the profound lyricism of the heartfelt Adagio. Overall the soloist cultivates the beauty of the work and displays a fine tone and control throughout. In addition the Orchestre de Chambre Jean-François Paillard under Jean-François Paillard offer a confident and compelling interpretation.

The second work on this Apex release is the Oboe Concerto K.314 which is thought to have been composed for soloist Giuseppe Ferlendis in 1777. The orchestral parts were lost for many years until being discovered in 1920 in the Salzburg Mozarteum library. On this release Pierre Pierlot is clearly fully attuned to the innate sophistication of the concerto displaying a high degree of virtuosity and creativity for the technical and artistic demands of the score. The English Chamber Orchestra under Jean-Pierre Rampal give a most sympathetic performance complementing the fine work of the soloist.

The Bassoon Concerto K.191 was composed in 1774 and for the most part the concerto is in the galant style; so typical of Mozartís writing at this time. The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under Theodor Guschlbauer give a fine performance of the beautifully coloured and crafted orchestration. Soloist Paul Hongne is on top form giving an assured and most lyrical performance that has that innate sense of music-making. He makes a beautiful sound instilling life into every bar of his performance.

My particular favourite versions of the Clarinet and the Bassoon Concertos are from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Karl Böhm, with Alfred Prinz, clarinet and Dietmar Zeman, bassoon, on Deutsche Grammophon 457 719-2. My preferred version of the Oboe Concerto is an interpretation from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under maestro Berglund with Douglas Boyd, oboe, from ASV digital CDCOE 808.

On this Apex release we are not given any information concerning the recording venues and dates. However the Apex label use previously released material and I can deduce that these performances were originally released on the Erato Disques label back in 1963, 1969 and 1979. The sound engineers have provided a warm and satisfactory sound quality and the booklet notes are concise, interesting and informative.

Although not my first choices in these works I cannot imagine any listener being disappointed. Fine performances and agreeable sound quality. Well worth the modest investment.

Michael Cookson


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