The major works here are those
by Mozart. The Oboe Quartet is a work derived from a visit to
Mannheim and was
written for the oboist Friedrich Ramm.
In three movements, it is generally sunny although the central
adagio has some darker overtones. The Oboe Quartet is one of
Mozartís better known chamber works and so is the Quintet, but
not in this format. Originally written in 1782 as a Wind Serenade
(in which form it is numbered as K.388), Mozart transcribed
it for String Quintet several years later. In this version (the
derivation of which seems to be unknown), the oboe takes the
place of the first violin. Whether or not this arrangement is
authentic, it seems to work well. The basic character of the
work is predominantly dark (as befits C Minor) but there can
be a substantial difference in feeling between the wind and
string versions. Here we get a half-way house Ė the version
to play if you canít make up your mind between the others! There
are four movements, the second and third of which are an andante
and minuet respectively.
of Max Artved and his Danish colleagues is stylish and well-judged.
I have nothing to compare them against in Mozartís Quintet (and
indeed it rarely seems to have been recorded in this form) but
found their version of the Quartet to be markedly preferable
to the one by Lothar Koch and members of the Amadeus Quartet in a mid-1970s
recording. Artvedís spirited approach
is more winning in both outer movements and I also found his
refusal to linger in the slow movement advantageous.
the Crusell Divertimento (in four
brief movements for oboe plus string quartet) and Bach Quartet
(in two movements) last about ten minutes and are attractive
works but they lack the profundity of Mozartís Quintet. Again
the playing is graceful and stylish but Sarah Francis and the
Allegri Quartet (on Hyperion Helios)
make rather more of the Crusell (their
couplings are Quintets by Kreutzer and Reicha),
and they are also better recorded. Whilst the basic sound quality
on this new disc is good, the oboe is balanced too closely and
there is quite a lot of key noise, especially during the trills.
The balance seems less troublesome in Mozartís Quintet than
in the other works. The prevailing dynamic
level is higher than usual and there is a need to adjust the
volume control downwards for comfortable listening. The documentation
is well up to the usual standard from this source i.e. excellent
for a budget price disc.
this is a mixed bag. If an arrangement of K.406 for Oboe Quintet
appeals, then look no further. There are a fair number of alternative
versions of Mozartís Oboe Quartet available and, whilst this
is an acceptable bargain version, the close balance seems to
rule it out as a top choice.
Patrick C Waller