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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Flute Concerto in D major, K. 314 (1778) [18.50]*
Flute Concerto in G major, K. 313 (1778) [22.43]*
Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551 "Jupiter" (1788) [35.34]
Jacques Zoon, flute*
Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman
rec. Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, 7-8 March 2004
TELARC CD-80624 [77.07]

It's nice to know that, after so many years of "historical" performances, there are still a few surprises in store. These concerti, when played by conventional orchestras, generally offer a dark, rich string sound that sets off the modern flute's bright timbre. Boston Baroque turns this sound-picture on its head, juxtaposing a lightweight, reedy-sounding string section against warm, compact, slightly breathy tones from the flute!

Jacques Zoon, a former Boston Symphony and Concertgebouw principal, proves as adept wielding the period flute - in this instance, a copy of an August Grenser six-keyed instrument - as he undoubtedly is with the modern one. He doesn't try to force an aggressive, Rampal/Galway sort of sound from it, choosing instead to exploit the expressive possibilities of its softer-focused timbre. He phrases a number of passages in bursts of short segments, a natural and effective style on this instrument. But no fear - Zoon can spin a long, singing line and deliver precision articulation with all the panache of the virtuoso crowd. I especially enjoyed the graceful performance of K. 313. For cadenza collectors, the unfamiliar one in the opening movement of K. 314 - I assume Zoon's own - modulates more adventurously than most, but stays well within the bounds of stylistic propriety.

Boston Baroque's recorded traversal of the Bach suites (Telarc CD-80619) was curiously erratic, but here the ensemble recovers its poise, re-establishing itself as one of the most consistently satisfying "period" orchestras. The smaller-scaled ensemble, predictably, imbues these scores with a chamber-music feeling. Only in the central Adagio non troppo of K. 313 do the violins sound noticeably understaffed - not in the crisp, compact tuttis, but in the passages for strings alone, which lack tonal body and "importance."

The performance of the Jupiter symphony - a generous and substantial make-weight, rather than a mere filler - is bright-eyed and propulsive, once past the mannered definition of the opening motifs. This way of playing those bars seemed insightful when we all first heard it, but now it's become a cliché, executed more or less without understanding; just play those bars in tempo, for heaven's sake. The Andante cantabile's glorious theme sounds a bit scrawny - it really wants more first violins than this - but Pearlman takes considerable care to taper the phrases, occasionally overdoing it. There's a buoyant long line to the Menuetto, and plenty of jubilant grandeur in the finale.

Telarc's recording, typically for them, welds clear instrumental images into a coherent overall sound, maintaining a natural-sounding perspective between orchestra and soloist in the concerti.

Stephen Francis Vasta

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