Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A, K581; Trio in E flat, K498 (Kegelstatt); Allegro assai in B flat, K516c

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

LABELS: Carlton
WORKS: Clarinet Quintet in A, K581; Trio in E flat, K498 (Kegelstatt); Allegro assai in B flat, K516c
PERFORMER: John Denman (clarinet), Paula Fan Denman (piano); Flesch Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 30366 01192
Mozart’s wonderful Quintet K581 for clarinet and strings has rightly come to be regarded not only as the finest work for this combination but as one of the greatest of all chamber music compositions. It seems somehow to convey the very essence of its composer’s complex personality by juxtaposing moments of exquisite melancholy alongside radiant and sunny music. Though not technically demanding this masterpiece is, in musical terms, notoriously elusive and requires considerable sensitivity to realise its full richness. The interpretation on this disc is unfortunately very wide of the mark and shows little understanding of structure and phrasing, let alone being able to offer any deeper insight. The tempi chosen are generally slow, leading to a sloppy and over-indulgent rendition with too many phrases pulled out of shape. This tendency is at its worst in the slow variation of the finale, which is so measured that all sense of line is lost. Aside from the waywardness of the reading, the playing itself lacks sophistication with insufficient attention to balance, and the extraneous breath noises of the clarinettist are irritating and intrusive. Sadly this performance simply does not compare favourably in any respect with many of the numerous other available recordings. The Trio fares somewhat better in general terms but still suffers from extravagant, sometimes tasteless, rubato. The Allegro assai, K516c, which exists only as a fragment for basset clarinet and strings, is included here as a completed movement arranged for standard clarinet. Tim Payne