Mozart’s output included a number of wind serenades and concertos.
His lyrical style suits wind instruments very well. Harmoniemusik
refers to a wind ensemble, usually consisting of pairs of oboes,
clarinets, horns and bassoons, and sometimes also including a
double-bass. This was a fashionable ensemble in Europe, with a repertoire including arrangements
of popular works of the time, as well as original compositions.
Both operas represented on this disc were written
in 1791, the year of Mozart’s death. Joseph Heidenreich’s arrangement
of Die Zauberflöte was completed just a few months after
the opera’s first performance. This is a convincing arrangement,
which is in keeping with Mozart’s writing and the style of his
own wind music. Following the overture, the music takes us through
the drama of the opera, with many of the main arias represented.
Variety is created through the choices of instrument, with melody
lines mostly split between oboe and clarinet, and the rich resonance
of the ensemble as a whole providing some wonderful colours. The playing is excellent,
and the intonation is particularly impressive. There is a lovely
sense of unity and the players blend very well, creating an
ensemble sound which is bigger than the sum of the individual
parts. The melodies are well phrased and the music has a singing
The arrangement of La Clemenza di Tito was
made by Joseph Triebensee, an oboe player who performed in the
premiere of Die Zauberflöte. The recording here includes
the overture and seven arias from Act I. The arrangement is
once again convincing, and perhaps possesses more lightness
than that of the previous work. The playing is once again excellent
and this is a highly enjoyable performance.
This is an interesting disc, which documents some
of the wind ensemble repertoire, as well as showing Mozart’s
operatic masterpieces in a new light. In terms of the social
history of music, it is fascinating to think that some people
at Mozart’s time may have first heard these operas through these
arrangements. The music itself works well in this format and
although the operatic storyline is an interesting addition,
the drama is not essential to the enjoyment of the music.
see also Review
by Simon Thompson