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Notes and Editorial Reviews
This Gran Partita dates from the early 1780s and is scored for pairs of oboes, clarinets, basset horns and bassoons, plus four horns and a double-bass. According to the booklet essay with this issue, it was probably written for outstanding players of the Bavarian court orchestra at Munich; the composer may also have had it played at his wedding in 1782, though the first public performance was probably a couple of years later, when a contemporary called it ''indescribably grand and magnificent''.
That quality of grandeur comes across well in the present performance, recorded in a New York location which is just reverberant enough to suit the music: it has an indoor feel to it, but remains spacious. Yet there is no trace of
heaviness in these textures, nor for that matter in tempos and phrasing, and all has an attractive bounce. Indeed, the playing is beautifully neat, blended and elegant, so that these performances may be recommended even to those who find most wind ensembles too squeaky and harmonium-like for comfort. Connoisseurs of instrumental sound will find much to delight them, for there are many textures that must be unique.
Try the opening of the Adagio third movement, where gentle horns contribute to a flowing accompaniment over which float first an oboe and then a clarinet: this is the passage that Salieri mentions in Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus: ''I called up to my sharp old God: 'What is this? What?' I was suddenly frightened. It seemed to me that I had heard a voice of God''. Collectors who already possess Christopher Hogwood's stylish version recorded in 1987 may remain content with that, but this one is if anything better still (rather more spacious, too, at 51 minutes against Hogwood's 47) and the recording has more tonal character.
-- Christopher Headington, Gramophone
Works on This Recording
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Pleasing Gift November 5, 2015
By John S B. (American Fork, UT) See All My Reviews
"This was a gift to a family member who plays it repeatedly. It is not unpleasant to hear, so I enjoy it as well."