Mozart: Quintet in E flat, K452; Adagio & Allegro in F minor, K594,

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WORKS: Quintet in E flat, K452; Adagio & Allegro in F minor, K594,
PERFORMER: Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet; Stephen Hough (piano)
Apart from the miraculous Quintet K452 for piano and winds, these are all arrangements made by the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet’s flautist. The beautiful and virtually unknown Adagio K580a, with its opening phrase very reminiscent of Mozart’s famous Ave verum corpus, works very well when played, as here, by cor anglais, basset-horn (a lower-pitched cousin of the clarinet), horn and bassoon; but anyone familiar with the dark original scoring, for two clarinets and three basset-horns, of the Adagio K411 may find the conventional wind quintet transcription disappointingly down-to-earth. As for the extraordinarily powerful late pieces for mechanical organ, they seem to cry out for a richer sonority than five wind players can given them (they are better known in transcriptions for piano duet), while the ethereal quality of the Adagio and Rondo K617 would be rather better served with the original glass harmonica part played on a celesta, rather than piano, as here.


The performances themselves are generally first-rate, though tempi are sometimes on the fast side. The Quintet fares particularly well, thanks in no small measure to a sensitive contribution from Stephen Hough, and the disc as a whole is valuable for offering a good deal of unfamiliar, yet great, Mozart. Misha Donat