Mozart, Massonneau, Stamitz & Krommer

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COMPOSERS: Massonneau,Mozart,Stamitz & Krommer
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Oboe Quartets
WORKS: Works by Mozart, Massonneau, Stamitz & Krommer
PERFORMER: Paul Goodwin (oboe); Terzetto
CATALOGUE NO: HMU 907220
Mozart wrote his Quartet K370 in Munich in 1781, following the successful debut of Idomeneo. He composed it for the virtuoso oboist Friedrich Ramm, a friend who had championed his Oboe Concerto and also performed in Idomeneo. The Quartet catches Mozart in high spirits, its sunny Allegro and dreamlike Adagio capped by an effervescent Rondeau that makes cheery use of Ramm’s talent for high notes.

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By comparison, the three quartets that follow seem long-winded and often trivial. Massonneau’s brief Adagio has a simple charm, though the Krommer Quartet is the more appealing overall, its busy outer movements framing an elaborate Adagio. Mozart’s own Adagio, K580a, a late fragment for cor anglais, closes the CD on a note of elegiac rapture.

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The classical oboe on which Paul Goodwin performs these quartets has a light, keening tone that will captivate some listeners and dismay others. The playing itself is deft and assured, though the sombre pacing of K580a may raise the occasional eyebrow. My preference for Goodwin’s earlier discs of Telemann and Vivaldi sonatas is due simply to his choice of repertoire: the Mozart works here are true hautboy cuisine, but between them the level of inspiration drops like a soggy soufflé. Graham Lock