WORKS: Flute Quartets (complete)
PERFORMER: Judith Hall (flute), Paul Barritt (violin), Gustav Clarkson (viola), Josephine Horder (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: RRC 1082 Reissue (1989)
The variation movements of Mozart’s last two flute quartets bring the best playing overall here, especially in the second movement of the C major work, where you’ll hear the longest and most imaginative span of music to be found among these slender inventions. The lightness and gaiety of these accounts can often be deliciously contagious, but deeper emotions concealed within these works don’t always register as effectively. The most profound episode, the darkly melancholic D minor Adagio of K285, acquires unexpected gravitas in the outstanding EMI recording by Emmanuel Pahud (flute), with Christoph Poppen, Hariolf Schlichtig and Jean-Guihen Queyras as expert string-trio collaborators. Good as she is, Judith Hall cannot match Pahud’s tonal sheen and flawless breath control, and nor are her string-playing partners in the same category as those heard on EMI’s finely-engineered disc. Incidentally, Pahud also observes second-half repeats in the opening movements of the first three quartets.