M Haydn, Mozart, Rossini & Franaix

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COMPOSERS: M Haydn,Mozart,Rossini & Franaix
LABELS: AAM Recordings
ALBUM TITLE: Chamber Music for English Horn and Strings
WORKS: Works by M Haydn, Mozart, Rossini & Françaix
PERFORMER: Members of the St Louis SO
CATALOGUE NO: MG 6865
Jean Françaix said of his Quartet for cor anglais (English horn) and strings that ‘it pleased me to make the cor anglais, above all a melancholy instrument, laugh from time to time’. Marc Gordon, a stalwart of the St Louis Symphony, plays the Quartet with unflappable technique and suitably melancholic tone, but he and his colleagues miss some of its laughter in a rather dogged performance; and the cor anglais consistently loses out in the balance to the overbearing violin playing of David Halen. This problem also mars a neatly crafted Quartet by Michael Haydn – in which, admittedly, the cor anglais mostly provides an alto voice below the violin and above cello and bass – and even Mozart’s melody-and-accompaniment Adagio, a beautiful torso probably intended for wind ensemble but here completed for cor anglais and strings. The ungenerous programme is completed by the second of Rossini’s youthful sonatas for strings, arranged by the bass player Carolyn White for violin, viola (replacing second violin), cello and bass. Though the performance is sprightly enough, it will hardly add to the disc’s appeal to double-reed fans attracted by the only currently available recordings of the Françaix and the Michael Haydn. Anthony Burton

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