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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major K299 (1778) [29:18]
Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds in E Flat Major K297B (1778) [28:30]
# Full Performers: Per Flemstrom (flute), Birgette Volan Havik (harp), Pavel Sokolov (oboe), Leif Arne Pedersen (clarinet), Per Hannisdal (bassoon), Inger Busserudhagen (horn)
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Alan Buribayev, Arvid Engegard
rec. Oslo Concert Hall, 2013
LAWO LWC1071 SACD [57:58]

These two delightful works come from Mozart’s unhappy time in Paris during 1778. He had been urged to leave Mannheim by his father and went reluctantly, arriving in Paris in March, accompanied by his Mother. Tragedy was to strike in July when she died of a fever and was buried in the Church of St. Eustache. This was a far cry from his previous visit when he had been acclaimed at a mere seven years of age.

The Concerto for Flute and Harp was commissioned by the flautist Duke of Guines, who wanted a work he could perform with his harp-playing daughter Marie-Louise Philippine. Apparently she wasn’t particularly skilled, despite lessons from Mozart and there is no evidence that the two played the piece. What was worse for Mozart is that the Duke did not pay him for the work. The Concerto is a pleasant piece in three movements with some delightful touches between the two instruments. I got to know this work about thirty years ago in a strong “old style” performance conducted by Karl Böhm (DG 0289 413 5522 5 GH). It’s not a work I play often but it has undoubted charm. This version certainly conveys its appeal most effectively. Both soloists acquit themselves proficiently although it is not the most characterful rendition I’ve heard. The Orchestra plays well but whilst the sound is generally good the soloists are more recessed than I’d prefer.

The Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds is one of my favourite pieces of Mozart even though there is some controversy over whether it is all by him. In the well-written notes Torkil Baden points out that notable scholar Stanley Sadie believes it cannot be all authentic Mozart as all three movements are in the same key. I’m not going to argue with people far more knowledgeable but I’ve always accepted this as Mozart and enjoy it as such. Like many others, I’m sure, my introduction to the work was courtesy of Karajan conducting the Philharmonia and a splendid quartet lead by Dennis Brain. That recording is currently in a box set — Karajan and his Soloists (Warner Classics 825646336258); a performance I return to again and again.

The present performance is under a different conductor, Arvid Engegard. It begins with tremendous gusto at a faster tempo than Karajan but never feels rushed. The interplay of the four instruments is most effective as is the jaunty humour of the first movement. The Adagio is sublime and moving. This too shows the fine playing of the quartet and the sympathetic accompaniment. The final movement gives each of the instruments a “chance to shine” and how well do these four soloists do so. Good though Walter Legge’s production was of Dennis Brain and co. back in 1953 there is no doubt that full stereo sound sixty years later conveys the nuances of the four instruments to a much greater degree.

I listened to this SACD in standard stereo format but found the sound quality of the highest level. All in all this is an excellent performance of a lovely piece regardless of whether it’s 100% Mozart. I know what I think.

The booklet has notes in Norwegian and English and brief but satisfactory summaries on the two pieces. There are also photos and biographies of the conductors and soloists.

These pieces, composed around the same time, make an appropriate coupling and will appeal to lovers of these works as well as to those who have yet to discover their charms.

David R Dunsmore




 




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