Most discs of the Flute
Concertos give you the Concerto for Flute and Harp, K299, as
fill-up, so the inclusion here of the much later Jupiter
Symphony - also in C major - is a welcome alternative, providing
far more variety (certainly more musical substance) and a stronger
sense of stylistic progression - if these things matter to you?
- from beginning to end of the disc.
Unlike the present disc,
most CDs of the Flute Concertos (even in these ‘enlightened’
times) give you the modern (post-1840s) Boehm flute, with all
its advantages and disadvantages! In theory, the metal
casing and complex keywork of today’s instrument offer perfect
intonation, more equal tone throughout the instrument, and a
much brighter sonority and carrying power than its 18th century
predecessor. By comparison, the wooden flute it replaced was
nowhere near as piercing, far more ‘register-prone’ and (if
anything) better able to deliver material in its lowest octave.
And, with only a couple of keys to avoid cross fingerings at
the bottom of the instrument, fingerwork was more vulnerable,
resulting in what many of us regard as rather appealing extraneous
sounds, and subtle (but very agreeable!) discontinuities in
the tonal character of the instrument.
The principal appeal of
this disc is the sound of the instruments, most especially Zoon’s
flute. This is near-faultless playing - not only 100% secure,
but lovingly shaped - and completely nullifies the case for
playing Mozart on modern instruments. I’ve often thought that
the K314 Concerto loses something on the flute, which is less
able to articulate some of the staccato passagework than
the oboe for which it was originally written. But hearing it
on the 18th century flute shows you how well that instrument
is able to project such material, especially when accompanied
by ‘matching’ sonorities, as here.
In fact the superb players
of Boston Baroque deserve equal praise. Throughout the Symphony,
the tapping of timpani, the rasping of natural horns and trumpets,
and the irresistible charm of the countless wind solos (especially
those puffy bassoons!) is a constant joy. Although, as a reading,
it takes an orthodox middle road - conventional tempi, with
no intrusive interpretive tricks up its sleeve - it sits worthily
alongside Gardiner’s and Pinnock’s memorable recordings.
This kind of disc brings
Mozart to life. What a long way we have come since the rather
cerebral ‘early music’ recordings of the early digital era.
This is vibrant music-making by real musicians - not ‘performing
intellectuals’ - enabling you to experience (not just
hear) Mozart’s soundworld as few other discs will allow
you to. Strongly recommended!
Peter J Lawson