Mozart: Clarinet, Flute & Bassoon Concertos
Recorded in three separate sessions in 2006 and 2009, Claudio Abbado brings characteristic clarity and energy to these performances by his Bologna-based Orchestra Mozart with three of its talented principal players. Alessandro Carbonare plays the late Clarinet Concerto with pleasingly soft-grained tone and some well-conceived ornamentation, apart from one decorated pause in the finale, which destroys the halting pathos of the surrounding passage. He uses a basset clarinet with the pitch-range for which the solo part was conceived: the extra low notes are well integrated and beautifully in tune, but the microphone seems to have been placed below the bell, so that you hear downward arpeggios coming nearer. In general the recording is clear and refined, but the acoustic is just resonant enough to obscure some of the orchestra’s clipped phrase-endings.
Jacques Zoon produces an equally mellifluous tone in his accomplished performance of the earlier Second Flute Concerto, now known to be Mozart’s own reworking of his Oboe Concerto. For the 2009 session, Guilhaume Santata is a characterful soloist in the even earlier Bassoon Concerto, although recorded so closely as to pick up some clicking bassoon keywork. He also adds some neat decoration, except that the lead-back to the recapitulation in the first movement seems too long when there’s still a proper cadenza to come. These two works complete an unusual programme, matched only by a Decca Eloquence compilation of vintage performances which inevitably sounds somewhat old-fashioned, in variable recordings. The Abbado disc nearly represents the state of the art of modern-instrument Mozart performance and recording: a pity about the ‘nearly’.