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Jonathan Woolf
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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Concerto for flute, harp and orchestra in C major, K299 (1777) [27:23]
Bassoon Concerto in B flat major (1774) [18.23]
Carl STAMITZ (1745-1801)
Bassoon Concerto in F [16:34]
Archie Camden (bassoon)
Richard Adeney (flute), Osian Ellis (harp)
London Mozart Players/Harry Blech
rec. 1956 (bassoon), April 1958

Reissuing a 1956 mono HMV LP coupled with a 1958 Saga XID5215 (also released on Classics Club) might seem slightly odd were it not for the unifying features that bind these two LPs together. Those features were orchestra and conductor – the London Mozart Players and Harry Blech - which for a time occupied that elevated position of symbiosis that came to be dominated in this kind of repertoire by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Blech, like Marriner, had been a distinguished string player, and a notable string quartet leader. He had the quality of animating his orchestras in concert and a number of those who played under him – including the flautist in this transfer of the Mozart, Richard Adeney – have attested to the vitality he exuded and drew from them. Adeney also revealed the players’ nickname for him: ‘Belch’. I suppose you had to be there.

The Mozart, alas, whilst stylistically shaped is something of a sonic disaster. This is not remotely the fault of performers or restoration. Quite what Saga thought they were doing should perhaps best be shrouded in silence. With soloists the stature of Osian Ellis and Adeney this is a real pity though presumably some kind of domestic acoustic was attempted. The result, though, is horribly dry and desiccated and even then Ellis was under-recorded.

HMV DLP1153, recorded two years earlier, offers a wholly different listening experience. Here the veteran bassoonist Archie Camden, getting on for 68, reprised his classic performance of Mozart’s Concerto. If my calculations are correct his March 1926 78rpm set, with Hamilton Harty, was still just about available to order at the time of this LP replacement, or it may have been phased out just as this most attractive, witty and distinctive disc was issued. Once again, as on the 78, he plays his own first movement cadenza and phrases with beguiling nonchalance throughout. It’s something of a shame that Gwydion Brooke’s famous reading with Beecham, recorded a few years later as a stereo replacement for this LMP recording, has tended to overshadow Camden. He also gives a most stylish and lively performance of Stamitz’s Concerto, complete with splendid cadenzas from Jan Kerrison, Camden’s wife and a fine musician – cellist, pianist and composer - in her own right.

If you collect this kind of 1950s material you can be assured whilst there are no booklets notes, as is customary from Forgotten Records, the transfers are first class.

Jonathan Woolf



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