LABELS: BBC Legends
WORKS: Clarinet Quintet in A, K581
PERFORMER: Amadeus Quartet; Gervase de Peyer (clarinet), Clifford Curzon (piano), Cecil Aronowitz (viola), William Pleeth (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: BBCL 4061-2 ADD stereo/mono
These Aldeburgh Festival performances from the Sixties have much to commend them. De Peyer and the Amadeus are on fine form in the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, even if its opening movement does not quite have the serenity and expansiveness of the same artists’DG recording. (That studio version also features the exposition repeat, sadly lacking on this earlier occasion.) The playing has great warmth and affection, though it is possible to feel that the rather forthright approach to the concluding variations robs the music of its natural gracefulness and delicacy – and, in the second variation, of the dynamic contrasts Mozart wanted.
Curzon was another regular Amadeus partner, and all five players respond well to the somewhat overheated style of the Franck Quintet. This is not a note-perfect performance, but its element of risk-taking is an integral part of music-making caught on the wing. As a bonus, the disc also contains a glowing account, recorded in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, of the string sextet Prelude to Strauss’s Capriccio, with Cecil Aronowitz and William Pleeth as the additional players. The mono recording of the Franck is rather constricted, with the piano lacking in brilliance; but the Mozart and Strauss – both in stereo – still sound very well. Misha Donat