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Mozart: Flute Concerto No. 2, etc

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski, et al (LPO)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Flute Concerto No. 2 in D; Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds in E flat; Bassoon Concerto in B flat
Juliette Bausor (flute), Ian Hardwick (oboe), Thomas Watmough (clarinet), Jonathan Davies (bassoon), John Ryan (horn); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
LPO LPO-0114   67:50 mins

With the obvious exception of the wonderful Clarinet Concerto, Mozart’s concertante compositions featuring solo wind instruments are nowhere near as musically interesting as those he composed for string instruments or the piano. Nevertheless, this compilation works remarkably well, providing a sufficiently varied sequence of contrasts in tempo and character to offset the predominantly genial nature of much of the writing.

The benefits of featuring the principal wind soloists of the LPO in this particular repertoire are much in evidence in the performance of the Sinfonia Concertante which boasts superbly coordinated ensemble as well as good sense of tempo flexibility in delineating Mozart’s operatic melodies. In this respect, the Finale’s set of variations is a particular delight with each member of the team relishing their opportunity for virtuosic display.

Juliette Bausor delivers a vivacious account of the Second Flute Concerto. I particularly liked her witty approach to the Rondo finale and her concern not to over-indulge levels of expressiveness in the central Adagio non troppo. In the Bassoon Concerto Jonathan Davies may not have quite such distinctive thematic material at his disposal, but nonetheless brings bags of personality to his performance.

In contrast to other releases on the LPO label, this programme was taped in studio conditions in the relatively intimate surroundings of the Henry Wood Hall. It would be interesting to know the exact numbers of strings that Vladimir Jurowski uses here. Although the wind players cut through the texture most effectively in the tuttis, the orchestral sound tends to be big-boned and heavy. In my opinion, greater textural transparency and variety of dynamics, as well as sharper levels of articulation, is more appropriate for these works.

Erik Levi