One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             



AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
The Four Flute Quartets: No. 1 in D, K 285 [14:05]; No. 2 in G K 285a† [9:25]; No. 3 in C K 285c [16:05]; No. 4 in A K 298 [11:34]
Richard Adeney (flute)
Melos Ensemble
recording date and venue not indicated

Iím sure Iíve typed it somewhere before and Iíll likely find myself typing it again before too long, but for classical music it truly is both the best and worst of times: the best in that never before has such a wide range of repertoire and performances been so readily available to so many people.† It is the worst of times in that popularity of classical music has suffered in the concert halls across the Western world, leaving many orchestras and performing ensembles in difficult straits.† For the collector of recordings obscure, historical, or unusual, however, weíve truly hit the big-time.† With recent re-releases reviewed on this website, such as the budget set of Rachmaninovís complete recordings (see review) as well as historical performances of those such as Gieseking (see review) and even recorded master classes by legends like Cortot (see review), the horizons are not only so vast, but they are of a decidedly rosy hue.
Resonance, the budget label for the Sanctuary records group, has here re-released the flute quartets as done by the Melos Ensemble and Richard Adeney.† Adeney, a member of the English Chamber Orchestra, and an artist closely associated with Benjamin Britten, recorded these pieces in the late seventies.† These recordings appear to be the same ones re-released on ASV (6099) as part of their budget line thirteen years ago.† Considering the popularity of this repertoire and the number of available recordings, I thought Iíd compare this with another similarly-priced recording made at the same time as the Adeney/Melos ó the collection of Mozartís works for flute that Renee Siebert did for Vox back in 1977 (the original copyright of the Adeney/Melos recording is 1978).† The Adeney/Melos disc has been given the budget treatment, with precious little information in the notes, save for an essay by Richard Townsend giving the historical context of these works.† No information aside from track listings is given ó the names of the performers, aside from that of Adeney, are sadly absent.† Vox is known for its extensive liner notes and jam-packed discs at low prices, and Siebertís set does not disappoint in this regard.
Regarding sound quality, for the Adeney/Melos, what is immediately apparent is the wide stereo separation ó essentially a ďdual monophonicĒ record in that the quartet is almost entirely on the left channel, the flute on the right.† The effect is rather unsettling in headphones and sounds somewhat artificial and strange on larger systems.† The only instrument that appears to share channels is the cello, which makes for an odd soundstage.† Adjustments could have been made during remastering to alleviate this, as it mars the enjoyment of playing that is overall light and balanced.† The Siebert recording on Vox is essentially in the same format, with the quartet weighted to the left channel and the flute to the right, but here there is more warmth, more of a subtle stereophonic sound, and a brighter aesthetic.† The Adeney/Melos has a colder sound, not as nuanced, and the added warmth of Siebertís recording increases the attractiveness of these pleasant works.† One such example is the theme and variations second movement of the K285c.† In the Adeney/Melos both the recording aesthetic and the playing gives a sense of rather frosty detachment.† Siebert, along with George Neikrugís wonderful cello performance, make the Vox recording of the K285c the clear winner.† In addition to the quartets, the Vox set includes all of the other works Mozart wrote for flute.†
Mozart disliked the flute, it is said, perhaps because the instrument is limited in the tonal spectrum that other instruments possess.† Adeneyís performance here has less coloration and nuance than other available performances, which isnít to say that these arenít pleasant.† This is enjoyable music, regardless as to the composerís view of the solo instrument, and it is played adeptly.† Fans of Adeney will likely rejoice at the return of these quartets to the record store shelves for a great price, but, even among other budget releases, one can find warmer, more engaging performances such as Siebertís, and some of these actually name the performers and include helpful liner notes.†
David Blomenberg


AmazonUK   AmazonUS


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.