Notes and Editorial Reviews
With the Royal Philharmonic, on the bargain label for which it is engaged in a mammoth recording project, Jonathan Carney is still more leisurely here, timing out at 11:53. The result could have been an excess of languor if it were not for the utterly committed and compelling playing of Carney himself, of Andrew Williams, who makes as richly succulent a viola sound as I can remember hearing, and of the orchestra, suitably scaled down from its full symphonic complement, and sounding in this admirably spacious recorded acoustic both spirited and stylish, in all three movements, the contributions of oboes and horns are wonderfully pointed and effective. Altogether this is a performance worthy to stand with my two previous top recommendations
for the work: the Grumiaux/Pellicia version with Sir Colin Davis, and the London Symphony in an economical two-disc Philips Duo set also containing all the Mozart violin concertos; the Pauk/Rolla/Liszt Chamber Orchestra recording in a more expensive and similarly programmed Hungaroton set seems to have disappeared from the catalogs.
For his companion piece Carney has chosen the Sinfonia Concertante for winds, given here in the evidently corrupt edition with clarinet that has come down to us, rather than in Robert Levin's putative restoration of what is believed to be Mozart's original conception with flute. No matter. So-called "Mozart authorities"—what an inappropriate word that is in the highly subjective realm of music!—are always pontificating about the dubious authenticity of this work. But I have always found it irresistibly charming. In many telling strokes, moreover, it shows a quintessentially Mozartean touch. 1 think in particular of the instrumental treatment of the first movement's luxuriantly melodious subordinate theme: Obviously a natural for the horn, it is teasingly withheld from that instrument until the recapitulation—a clear structural parallel with the first movement of theE?-Major Serenade for winds, K 375.
Within the limits of the music's less revelatory inspiration, this is a performance very nearly as persuasive as that of the string Sinfonia Concertante, vigorously and stylishly played by both soloists and orchestra, and very well recorded. This discs, then, may be regarded as a top-flight addition to the existing discography for the works in question. You may rest assured, at any rate, that Beecham's old orchestra no longer indulges in the breathtakingly tasteless cuts I heard Sir Thomas inflict on the first movement of K 364 when he conducted it in London three or four decades ago.
– Bernard Jacobson, Fanfare, reviewing a previous issue of this recording Read less
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