Mozart: Divertimento No. 17 in D, K334; Oboe Quartet in F, K370
For forerunners of ambitious wind-and-string chamber works such as the Beethoven Septet and the Schubert Octet, look no further than Mozart’s Salzburg Divertimentos. K334, for example: scored for four solo strings and two horns; and written in six movements, including two Minuets, a set of Variations, as well as a slow movement and March.
This highly enjoyable performance is directed from the first-violin chair by Alexander Janiczek, who spins a fine, lithe line, with minimal vibrato, articulating the phrasing with deft bowing. His lead is followed by his string colleagues, while the two horn players – on natural, valveless instruments – shift neatly between subdued background and fanfaring foreground. My only reservations concern the bass line: while it’s clear that Mozart expected a double bass rather than a cello, the bass player here seems to grunt along in a different acoustic. Perhaps the generally clear recording fails to integrate him sufficiently with the other players.
Mozart’s slightly later Oboe Quartet makes an appropriate coupling. Oboist Robin Williams – seemingly surrounded by more space than his string colleagues – slots well into the ensemble, with bright, rounded tone and nimble phrasing.