The first work here is Mozart's 'Second' Flute Concerto, a 1778 reworking in D major of an Oboe Concerto in C major, K271k, composed a year earlier. Commissioned to compose three concertos for an amateur flautist called Dr Ferdinand Dejean, a scientist in the service of the Dutch East India Company, he was unhappy about his task; ''I become quite powerless when I am obliged to write for an instrument which I cannot bear'', he told his father in a letter at the time. But predictably he did a good compositional job on this work and also on the G major, K313, which was written directly for the flute at much the same time, and it is tempting to believe that the composer would have had a kinder view of James Galway's refined modem instrument. Read more />
Galway is of course a master, and he draws faithful playing from the musicians of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe so that Mozart's music comes across positively. The flute is well balanced too with the orchestra of two oboes, two horns and strings. The recording (made in London's Conway Hall in December 1984 and July 1985) is reverberant, with dynamics on the loud side and a boomy bass, as if the double-basses in particular have been artificially boosted—this is especially noticeable in such passages as the start of the Adagio ma non troppo of the G major Concerto.
The Concerto for flute and harp belongs to the same period as those for flute (1778) and was composed in Paris for the Duc de Guines and his harpist daughter. Sensuously beautiful and ingenious too, this substantial work receives a thoughtful perfomance from James Galway and Marisa Robles, and although at the start of the initial Allegro one notes a deliberate tempo the pretty sounds produced by the two solo instruments on their entry make one cease to query the pace and overall this is an attractive account. One can see that restricting this issue to original works including Mozart's own flute version of the C major Oboe Concerto would still have taken it beyond the length of one CD. As it is, filling two CDs taking 109 minutes (not especially long even so) has necessitated incorporating two transcriptions and also the Eine kleine Nachtmusik in which, of course, the flute has no place at all but which needs no recommendation as music. As for the transcriptions, Mozart's Rondo, K373, was originally for violin and orchestra, but flautists have adopted it in a transposition to D major and it goes well in this form; this arrangement is by James Galway himself, as is that of the minuet from the Divertimento for two horns and strings, K334—a famous tune that well suits the flute.
-- Christopher Headington, Gramophone [7/1989] Read less