Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Clarinet Concerto in A major, K 622 (1791) [26:42]
Flute Concerto No. 2 in D major, K 314 (1778) [18:45]
Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K 191 (1774) [16:41]
Alessandro Carbonare (clarinet); Jacques Zoon (flute); Guilhaume Santana (bassoon);
Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado
rec. Teatro Manzoni, Bologna, Italy, May 2006 (Clarinet Concerto) and June 2009 (Bassoon Concerto); Auditorium/Konzerthaus, Bolzano/Bozen, Italy, September 2006 (Flute Concerto)
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 9331 [62:24]

This disc continues the series of Mozart works that Claudio Abbado has recorded with his handpicked Orchestra Mozart, which was founded in Bologna in 2004. The Flute and Harp Concerto, Sinfonia Concertante for Winds, and the Horn Concertos have already appeared to generally positive reviews. As one would expect the three soloists here are virtuosos who do not disappoint. They receive expert accompaniment from Abbado and the orchestra. The booklet lists the orchestra personnel, but if all of them were playing here it would be a very large orchestra. That obviously is not the case, as the orchestra sounds like a good-size Classical orchestra. Thus, one may assume that the orchestra is drawn at any time from the very large roster of musicians listed. 

Alessandro Carbonare performs the Clarinet Concerto on the basset clarinet with its extended range, though he does not take complete advantage of the lower notes in the last movement as Charles Neidich does in his recording with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Neidich transposes the theme down at 3:21 where Carbonare does not in the same place at 3:17. Overall, Carbonare has the smoother, more rounded tone and his tempos are brisker in each movement, while Neidich plays with more character. I like them both, but slightly prefer Neidich. There is so much competition in this great work that most listeners will already have their favorite. Carbonare and Abbado certainly hold their own in this company.
Mozart’s dislike of the flute is well known, yet he composed much great music employing this instrument. The Flute Concerto No. 2 is actually an arrangement he made of his Oboe Concerto, but one would never know that the work was not originally composed with the flute in mind. It is a bright and breezy work whose spirit Jacques Zoon and Abbado capture nicely. I personally think the Concerto for Flute and Harp is a greater work and has a better use of colour with the two instruments playing off one another, but the Flute Concerto makes pleasant listening.
The Bassoon Concerto, the earliest of the three here, has always been a favourite of mine. There are so few works composed for the instrument, not counting Vivaldi’s, but Mozart’s stands out for its sheer tunefulness and fun. I fondly remember my introduction to the work, the account by Gwydion Brooke with Sir Thomas Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic. Brooke’s fruity tone and his use of vibrato made his bassoon sound a bit like a saxophone, but I always associated the work with him. Gilhaume Santana’s instrument does not in the least remind me of a saxophone and his tasteful employment of vibrato suits the concerto well. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and not only for the bassoon, as the horns also come through warmly in the orchestral accompaniment. Of the three performances here this is the one I will return to most often.
The performances are captured with clarity and warmth. They are recorded quite closely and at a high level, so that I found myself lowering the volume control. However, with the microphones apparently so close, one can hear the clicking of the keys in the Bassoon Concerto, a minor annoyance. I did not notice this in the Clarinet Concerto, and both were recorded in the same venue. DG’s presentation is satisfactory, even though the booklet notes are only adequate, and there is nothing about the soloists or orchestra except for the long list of orchestra personnel. There are black and white photos of the three soloists.
If you are collecting this series, you may safely add this latest volume to your library. It should provide a great deal of listening pleasure, though there are other recordings of these works that will do the same or which you may even prefer.
Leslie Wright 

Fine performances of Mozart wind concertos, but the competition is strong. 


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