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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-91)
Concerto for Flute in D major, K314 (1777) [18:50]
Concerto for Flute in G major, K313 (1777) [22:43]
Symphony No 41 in C major, K551 ‘Jupiter’ (1788) [35:34]
Jacques Zoon (flute)
Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman
recorded in Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, 7-8 March 2004
TELARC CD-80624 [77:07]


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



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