Notes and Editorial Reviews
Serenade in B?,
K 361, “Gran Partita”
Niksa Bareza; Saxon Wind Academy
AURIS-SUBTILS 12021 (48:40)
Drawn by B. H. Haggin’s grumpily ecstatic review, I first heard Mozart’s sublime “Gran Partita” in the 1963 recording by the London Wind Quintet and Ensemble, a recording that is still available on EMI. Haggin’s low opinion of Otto Klemperer, who conducted that recording, made it almost painful for Haggin to love the performance the way he did. As I remember it, Haggin
opined that the London Ensemble’s enormous talents must somehow have overridden Klemperer’s shortcomings, particularly his plodding tempos and heavy-handed accents. I am still attached to that Klemperer recording, but there have been recordings almost as good since, including performances led by Mackerras and Järvi, the EMI recording by the London Philharmonic Wind Ensemble, and one by a lesser-known group, the Sixth Floor Orchestra. More recently, I have listened to the Boulez recording, which I find vibrant as well as clear in texture but which others have found dry.
There are distinctions to be made. If there’s a fault in the London Philharmonic recording (EMI), it’s in the too broadly paced second movement, a movement that Jarvi, for instance, takes much more lightly and to greater effect. This Niksa Bareza/Saxon second movement is between the two in tempo, a respectable place to be. Bareza’s live recording is nowhere eccentric, a good thing in my book, and it’s always musical. It sounds considerably lusher, even bigger, than the Klemperer recording, an effect of the engineering and, I would guess, of the room in which it was recorded. I marginally prefer the dryer sound. But, though the recording is never as playful as the Jarvi, or as completely polished as the Klemperer, this is another excellent recording by a group that was founded in 1990. The notes to the disc are solely in German.
FANFARE: Michael Ullman
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