Castil-Blaze/Weber/Blasius

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Castil-Blaze/Weber/Blasius
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Castil-Blaze: Sextet No. 1 in E flatWeber: Adagio and RondoBlasius: Suite d’harmonie No. 1; Suite d’harmonie No. 2; Suite d’harmonie No. 3
PERFORMER: Mozzafiato
CATALOGUE NO: SK 68263
If you have ever doubted the virtues of period instruments, listen to the copies of early 19th-century clarinets, horns and bassoons on this disc. With a double bass below, they create a wonderfully warm, richly enveloping sound. Audible but not intrusive breathing, chattering keys, and coloured, hand-stopped horn notes create strongly distinctive character, as well as a sense of immediacy – though I would have liked a touch more ‘presence’ between movements.

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Mozzafiato is technically impressive: barely a flagging tongue throughout the yards of semiquavers for reed instruments, dazzling horns vying with them in sheer velocity. Its ensemble is polished, but not so slick that excitement is lost.

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The music is for carefree hearing rather than concentrated listening. Weber’s Adagio and Rondo is the best crafted; Castil-Blaze, reportedly a pretty irresponsible plagiarist, here has some charming, original ideas. Blasius (new to the record catalogue) doesn’t quite merit the welcome accorded to him in clarinettist Charles Neidich’s notes; the three Suites overflow with alluring but underdeveloped ideas, often the mark of lesser composers. Every short movement, though, affords a passing delight – echoes, irrational phrase-lengths, and not least an additional tambourine at the very end, the player unacknowledged – a spare recording engineer, perhaps? George Pratt