WORKS: Flute Quartet in D, K285; Flute Quartet in G, K285a; Flute Quartet in C, K285b; Flute Quartet in A, K298
PERFORMER: Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Christoph Poppen (violin), Hariolf Schlichtig (viola), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56829 2
The Flute Quartets may not rank among Mozart’s most inventive chamber compositions (they were commissioned by amateur flautist Ferdinand Dejean), but it’s their charm and beguiling frivolity that has ensured them a firm place in the repertoire.
Two of the best available recordings come from different ends of the interpretative spectrum. The first, a strait-laced period-instrument performance from the Kuijken brothers and Lucy van Dael (viola), accentuates the quartets’ light, delicate nature (Accent ACC 48225). By contrast, a quite voluptuous approach emanates from the creamy tone of Grafenauer with matching warmth from Kremer and the Hagens (Sony SK 66240): without being gratuitous, there’s plenty vibrato, although the strings sometimes sound a little weighty.
Forging a unique path is the new release from Wentz and Musica ad Rhenum. The sound, particularly for a period-instrument ensemble, is rich and full-bodied; the players have a wayward, explorative streak, which contrasts at times with an over-stylised mannerism. Rubato often takes a curious turn as does their use of ornamentation, but above all, the group excels in enhancing Mozart’s playfulness.
Surpassing any previous recordings of the quartets comes this winning disc from Pahud with Poppen, Schlichtig and Queyras. As with Pahud’s recording of the Mozart flute concertos, these interpretations possess real joie de vivre; Allegros bounce along with stylish elegance, Adagios are performed with a sensitive cantabile, yet he can still sound wickedly flirtatious when appropriate. Pahud and his spontaneously interactive ensemble demand close listening. Kate Sherriff