The front cover bears the
words “Sublime Mozart” and few will disagree with those terms
in respect of these works. There is however always the risk
that their very perfection may engender a blandness in performance.
Performers can be all too aware that any positive response
on their part to the music may lead to a negative response
in some listeners. Thus we hear too many faceless performances,
no doubt played with great beauty of tone and no doubt lacking
real interaction with the music.
that is very much not the case here, especially with the
Quintet. The music is thoughtfully and vividly characterized
throughout. At no time is this a routine performance, but
neither does it fall into the trap of drawing too much attention
to the performance per se
. Rather it sounds like five
sincere and gifted musicians responding to a great masterwork
in an apparently spontaneous way - although I have no doubt
that it was in fact very carefully prepared. There are so
many outstanding performances of this work in the catalogues
that it would be foolish to claim that this might be the “best” available,
but it is certainly one well worth hearing and well worth
having if you want this very logical coupling.
considerations apply to the Concerto, although here I am
not so certain about the orchestra’s contribution. This is
very beautifully played but lacks the kind of specific response
to the music or the soloist that could make it a great performance.
Nonetheless the soloist’s performance is of such quality
that it is worth hearing on his account. He was in fact Principal
Clarinet with this Orchestra from 1987 to 2000 although I
understand from the booklet that he now divides his time
between a number of Australian musical groups.
recording is excellent without drawing undue attention to
itself. Like earlier Melba discs that I have encountered,
the presentation here is excellent, with the disc clipped
inside the front cover of a very smart-looking booklet which
contains photographs, good notes on the music in English,
German and French, and notes on the performers in English
only. The latter lists the members of the Grainger Quartet.
As this information is not included anywhere else in the
booklet and as they deserve individual recognition I repeat
them here – Narsuko Yoshimoto and James Cuddeford (violins),
Jeremy Williams (viola) and Patrick Murphy (cello). The members
of the orchestra are also individually listed – a feature
that other companies should copy.
disc is dedicated to Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE on her
birthday on 9 February 2009. This must have
been an excellent birthday present which I hope she enjoyed
as much as I did.