COMPOSERS: Mozart • Haydn
WORKS: Oboe Concerto • Sinfonia Concertante
PERFORMER: Lucas Macías Navarro (oboe), Gregory Ahss (violin), Konstantin Pfiz (cello), Guilhaume Santana (bassoon); Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: 50-1302
It was characteristically generous of Claudio Abbado, in what must have been among his very last studio sessions, to devote his attention to giving solo opportunities for sectional leaders of the fine Mozart Orchestra which he himself founded and nurtured. Haydn’s autumnal Sinfonia Concertante for violin, cello, oboe and bassoon is the ideal work for such a purpose. Ensemble concertos of this kind were popular in London at the end of the 18th century, and Haydn wrote his sole example in an attempt to outdo his former pupil Ignaz Pleyel, who was exploiting the genre with considerable success.
Abbado had previously recorded the piece in the late 1980s, with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (on Deutsche Grammophon), and that earlier version has a slightly more vivid orchestral contribution than can be heard on this new disc, where the closely-balanced soloists occasionally obscure some of the orchestral detail. It’s not a serious drawback, though, and musically there’s nothing to choose between the two performances. If anything, the later one draws more melancholy out of Haydn’s abrupt switches of key.
The performance of the Mozart Oboe Concerto is admirably beautiful, with fine playing from Lucas Macías Navarro, and every orchestral phrase lovingly caressed by Abbado. At 40 minutes the disc isn’t generously filled, but few would want to measure the musical riches it offers by the clock.