CD begins with Mozart’s most famous flute quartet, the D major.
Played with ease, clarity and poise, it is clear from the outset
that this is an exceptional group of musicians. Following a
perfectly played opening movement, Bennett’s interpretation
of the beautiful Adagio is exquisite; he finds the simplicity
within the line while expressing profound musicality. His tone
quality is rich and sonorous and his sense of phrasing is truly
beautiful. The quartet ends with an exciting finale, demonstrating
some fine playing from the Grumiaux Trio and a wonderful sense
of joy. This is fast paced and full of lightness, technical
display and musicianship. I cannot fault it. This performance,
alone, makes this CD a must-have.
performances of the remaining flute quartets live up to the
standards set by the D major. The Flute Quartet in A major
includes a viola solo, impressively played by Georges Janzer,
to the sensitive accompaniment of the rest of the ensemble.
Bennett has astonishing pianissimo control and from hearing
this CD, it is completely understandable that he has gained
a reputation as one of the finest living flute players. The
Andantino con variazioni of the C major quartet is particularly
well played, with lightness and delicacy from all the players,
and the balance adapting to suit the various solo lines.
had not previously heard the G major quartet, and it is sometimes
not included in recordings of Mozart’s complete flute quartets.
It is shorter than the others, with only two movements and a
total duration of just over nine and half minutes. Another charming
work, this was the only one of the set thought not to have been
written as part of the celebrated commission for amateur flute
player Ferdinand de Jean. That commission included the two flute
concertos and gave rise to the famous legend that Mozart disliked
the flute. He was asked to compose six quartets and completed
only three; it possible that this fourth quartet was written
at the same time, though the earliest surviving manuscript is
not in Mozart’s hand writing, raising questions about its authenticity.
first CD of this two disc set is completed with the Oboe
Quartet in F major, performed here by Pierre Pierlot. This
is the first international CD release of this recording, although
it was presumably previously available on vinyl. Bennett’s fine
flute playing is a hard act to follow, but Pierlot and his colleagues
give a high quality performance. The Allegro sparkles,
and Pierlot displays a wonderful musical elegance in the Adagio.
The final Rondeau is faultless, with excellent technical
control and a lightness of touch.
second disc of the set comprises Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet K581
and the C major String Quintet D956 by Schubert, both of which
are premiere international CD releases of these particular recordings.
Pieterson performs on the clarinet with a silky tone which is
both beguiling and expressive. The string playing is consistently
high quality, although the sound perhaps betrays the age of
the recording. There is an excellent sense of balance and homogeneity
between the string parts and I particularly enjoyed the clarity
of the bass line, with some beautifully expressive pizzicato
playing in the first movement [3:47]. The minor key interludes
are phrased with a wonderful change of tone colour, and the
technical moments are always performed neatly, with the ensemble
always secure. Each of the players are evenly matched, creating
a fine performance. The famous Larghetto sounds effortless
and exquisitely beautiful, full of charm and character. There
are some lovely moments of dialogue between the violin and clarinet,
and the change of dynamic at the recapitulation is breathtaking.
The Menuetto is played with some weightiness and seriousness,
a welcome contrast to the other movements. The final Allegretto
con variazioni also has a sense of gravitas in the opening
theme, with each variation taking on its own character as the
Schubert is played with elegance, with the opening of the Adagio
demonstrating particular sensitivity. The first movement has
drama and simplicity in equal measure, with the lyrical phrases
demonstrating a poignant romanticism, alongside captivating
directional movement in the driving crescendos. This is a substantial
work, almost orchestral in its proportions, which contains a
whole gamut of emotions, all of which are performed here with
strength, passion and commitment. The Adagio, with its
well-known rhythmic motif, is performed with true grace. This
is a wonderful rendition. The military-like opening of the Scherzo
is instantly commanding with some dazzling violin playing from
Grumiaux and Gérecz balanced well by the bass end of the ensemble.
The final Allegretto is well controlled and stylishly
is an excellent recording and I am particularly glad that it is
now widely available on CD. This is an essential part of any CD