''A great wind piece of a very special kind'': that is how Mozart's Serenade for 13 instruments was described on its premiere in March 1784, and with no exaggeration. It has had many excellent recordings in the past, and this new one is certainly among the very finest. It is, I think, a matter of taste rather than any kind of chauvinism that leads me to prefer English wind players to any others in the world: the compromise they invariably find between a smooth, well-blended sound and individuality of tone and expression seems to me extremely satisfying. The present disc happily exemplifies it. The ensemble sound, which digital recording doubtless captures the more vividly, has a remarkable warmth and richness yet remains clearly defined,Read more with the result that much inner detail comes through.
Sir Neville Marriner's interpretation is characteristically both spirited and graceful. The main Allegro of the first movement is quickish yet there seems to be plenty of time for shaping the music; the rhythms are well sprung, the textures lucid... In the Adagio...Marriner [provides] ample time to draw warm and loving playing from the three main soloists (oboe, clarinet and basset-horn) and to set them against a sensuously rich, seamless fabric of sound. I should not have been averse to having both minuets a little quicker (they are lengthy movements, each with two trios, and in Mozart's time they would probably be done faster than this); the first trio, for pairs of clarinets and basset-horns is particularly light and happy, and the Landler-ish lilt of the second one of the second minuet is nicely caught. I was sorry that in the Romanze, again lovingly played and with some finely athletic work from the bassoons in the central section, an evident slip of Mozart's pen is taken seriously and a bar omitted just before the coda. There is much that is exquisite in the variations, above all in the fifth with its wonderful soft textures and the deeply poetic oboe solo above them, played here with great beauty and intensity. The finale is of course high-spirited, and very neatly played. Sir Neville follows the text in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, which has a number of differences from the familiar one, mostly in details of articulation that make the effect lighter and more spirited. I find this version altogether more interesting...and on the whole more sympathetic than [other performances], partly at least because of its warmer textures—Mozart's choice of this ''very special'' combination of instruments makes clear that he had new and rich textural ideas in his mind and Marriner certainly makes the most of them.
Mozart's MasterpieceJuly 7, 2014By M. Johnson (Simi Valley, CA)See All My Reviews"The best words to describe this amazing piece is truly not by me, but from the film Amadeus where Salieri played by Oscar winning actor F. Murray Abraham says the following about the Gran Partita: On the page it looked nothing. The beginning simple...almost comic. Just a pulse bassoons and basset horns like a rusty squeezebox. Then suddenly high above it an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition by a performing monkey! This was a music I'd never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it had me trembling. It seemed to me that I was hearing a voice of God. I will say this. There is no other composition by Mozart or any other composer that I am aware of that has anything close to this masterpiece. It is so unique. The Finale (molto allegro) alone is worth every penny of this CD. It is the greatest of all of Mozart's signature endings."Report Abuse
The Partita is my favorite May 19, 2012By Richard H. (Glendale, AZ)See All My Reviews"This is absolutely my favorite work by Mozart. A real masterpiece of the blending of rich textures. Woodwinds are a difficult breed and Mozart handles them expertly. This recording by Marriner and musicians in the ASMF is astounding. I have several recordings of this work and this rates right up there at the top of the list for performance. This is not a new recording but it compares well sonically with the more recent performances."Report Abuse