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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphonie concertante in E flat major, K364 (1779) [30:50]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Quintet in A major Trout D667 (1820) [36:06]
Nap de Klijn (violin), Paul Godwin (viola)
Amsterdam Piano Quintet
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Bernhard Paumgartner
rec. October 1953, Phonogramstudio, Hilversum (Schubert); April 1955, Brahms-Saal, Musikverein, Vienna (Mozart)

Both these recordings were released on individual Philips LPs but what binds the performances together is the string playing team of Nap de Klijn and Paul Godwin, the soloists in the Sinfonia concertante and both members of the Amsterdam Piano Quintet. The other players in that group were cellist Carel van Leeuwen, bassist Lion Groen and pianist Alice Heksch. The husband-and-wife Klijn-Heksch duo made a number of fine recordings such as some sonatas by Mozart (review) and Beethoven (review) and the Netherlands String Quartet, and later the Amsterdam Quartet, both profited from the presence of leader de Klijn and Godwin.

The Sinfonia concertante was recorded in Vienna in 1955 at a time of plentiful work for the hard-pressed members of the Vienna Symphony. Bernhard Paumgartner directs. The orchestral opening is rather lethargic but thereafter the soloists pick up the tempo. De Klijn is by some way the more ear-catching soloist, Godwin’s slower vibrato, more monochromatic tone and not wholly equalized scale meaning something of an imbalance. Godwin had in fact been born Pinchas Goldfein in Poland and was for many years a violinist, later switching to the viola. Neither player has a big, carrying tone and whilst the slow movement is sensitive and thoughtfully phrased it’s not penetratingly moving. De Klijn is particularly good in the finale, assured, direct, tonally focused with a good Mozart style, but the result generally is rather small-scale and undramatic.

The Trout was recorded in Hilversum rather earlier, in October 1953. With those three core members of the Netherlands Quartet on board – the missing player was second violinist, Jaap Schröder, yet to specialise in early music – one is assured of a high level of technical and expressive competence. Lion Groen proves a witty bassist and Heksch anchors the performance with a fine sense of stylish colour. The undulating warmth of the music isn’t undersold.

A few final thoughts. Paumgartner recorded Mozart’s Rondo K269 with de Klijn in the same year they recorded the Sinfonia concertante so there was clearly some sort of affinity between both men in the repertoire. And there was a second, later recording of the Trout from the Amsterdam Piano Quintet, this time with Heksch replaced by George van Renesse. Both recordings were released by Philips so be aware that this restoration is the earlier of the two.

The transfers are up to FR’s customarily high standard. I seldom if ever comment on the artwork of their discs, for some reason, but this one features a quietly evocative Caspar David Friedrich.

Jonathan Woolf

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