Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Flute Quartet in D, K285 (1777) [14:01]
Flute Quartet in G, K285a (1777-8) [10:24]
Flute Quartet in C, K285b (1778) [16:54]
Flute Quartet in A, K298 (1778?) [11:20]
Flute Quartet in F, K370 (1801, orig. for oboe) [14:33]
Raffaele Trevisani (flute)
Martin Kos (violin)
Karel Untermüller (viola)
David Havelík (cello)
rec. Church of Santa Maria dell'Incoronata, Martinengo, Italy, September 2011
DELOS DE3478 [67:18]

These genial performances are a reminder of chamber music's origins, suggesting a group of friends playing beautiful music for pleasure. In this case, however, we're lucky enough to be in on it.

The flutist, Raffaele Trevisani, produces a clear, focused tone that never hardens. He can spin out a calm singing line with ease — all the slow movements, in fact, are noteworthy for their patient, flowing treatment — but has virtuosity to spare in the several variation sets, which he dispatches with flair. Throughout the programme, his articulation is clear and his intonation is spot-on.

His string partners, Czechs by birth and training, support him sensitively in the lyrical passages and bring plenty of energy to the faster movements. Their rhythmic address is laid-back, but not to the point where ensemble becomes imprecise. In the contrapuntal passages, they project the give-and-take between strings and flute with zest, particularly in the several theme-and-variations movements, where the variations are strongly characterized.

The programme includes a fifth "flute quartet": a straight, apparently undoctored transcription of the Oboe Quartet. You'd think this wouldn't work, since the oboe and the flute are so different, tonally and mechanically; but the effect sounds surprisingly natural, as if it were the composer's original idea. The first movement is cheerful and breezy; the peaceful Adagio unfolds spaciously, ending sadly in the minor; the Rondeau goes with an easy swing, relaxing gracefully into the final cadence.

The D major's opening Allegro seems fiercely fast; the players do launch the movement with unusual vigour, but a roomy, ambient acoustic exaggerates the effect. The resonance smudges some inner detail in the first movement of the A major quartet, and seems out of proportion to the music's scale. The effect, however, is not unpleasant, reminding me, at least, of hearing ad hoc chamber concerts in old Baroque churches in Eastern Europe.

Stephen Francis Vasta
Stephen Francis Vasta is a New York-based conductor, coach and journalist.

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