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Mozart: Gran Partita / Mark Simpson: Geysir

Mark Simpson (clarinet), Nicholas Daniel (oboe), et al (Orchid Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Mozart • Mark Simpson
Mark Simpson: Geysir; Mozart: Serenade No. 10 in B flat major, K361 ‘Gran Partita’
Mark Simpson, Fraser Langton (clarinet), Nicholas Daniel, Emma Fielding (oboe), Amy Harman, Dom Tyler (bassoon), Oliver Pashley, Ausias Garrigos Morant (basset horn), Ben Goldscheider, Angela Barnes, James Pillai, Fabian van de Geest (horn), David Stark (double bass)
Orchid Classics ORC100150   57:32 mins


Brave is the composer who would venture a companion piece to Mozart’s Serenade K361. Who can forget Salieri’s exquisite description, as imagined by Peter Shaffer in his play Amadeus, of its sublime Adagio? Mark Simpson isn’t just brave. He has also triumphed. Geysir (its title with roots in the Old Norse word ‘to gush’) shoots into the musical firmament like a force of nature, propelled by ideas derived from Mozart’s statuesque opening chord and the gurglings of clarinets and basset horns in the sixth movement’s penultimate variation. Geysir continually and ingeniously shakes hands with its inspiration, yet is never cowed.

As a clarinettist himself – a former BBC Young Musician of the Year – Simpson is completely inside the soundworld, taking consummate ownership of the possibilities and relishing its variegated voluptuousness. Densely imagined, the details nonetheless register, and he heads up a crack ensemble of cohering soloists with plenty to say in a performance served up with invigorating élan. The Mozart itself isn’t always consistently at the same level of execution – a spot more Gemütlichkeit wouldn’t have gone amiss on occasions; but the variations are skilfully characterised; the ‘Romance’ sensitively sculpted, its central Allegretto cheerfully irreverent; and the moonbathing of Menuetto 2’s second Trio sports a lovely Ländler lilt. Excellent booklet notes too.

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Paul Riley