LABELS: ASV Gold
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Quartet for flute and strings in D, K285; Adagio for cor anglais and strings in C, K580; Quintet for piano and wind in E flat, K452; Quintet for clarinet and strings in A, K581
PERFORMER: Ensemble 360
CATALOGUE NO: GLD 4022
The rarity here is an unfinished Adagio K580a, probably intended for cor anglais and strings – a strikingly beautiful piece whose opening melody is closely related to that of the well known Ave verum corpus K618. For the rest, this attractive disc includes the best of Mozart’s flute quartets, K285, plus two works that belong among the peaks of the chamber repertoire: the Clarinet Quintet in A major, and the Quintet for piano and winds K452.
The Ensemble 360 is a recently-formed group of young players that takes its name from the theatre-in-the- round design of the Crucible Studio in Sheffield. Judging from these very accomplished performances they are all highly talented musicians. Particularly successful is the Quintet K581, for which Matthew Hunt uses a basset clarinet offering the extended range at the bottom end of the instrument for which Mozart almost certainly conceived the part. The opening movement’s central development section is a passage that can sometimes sound rather insignificant, but here Mozart’s stabbing accents are pointed up, bringing the music vividly to life. Altogether, this is a performance that can stand as a benchmark for this much-recorded work. No less impressive is the Quintet K452, which conveys a similar sense of freshness and spontaneity. It’s a performance to give the fine Philips recording by Brendel and a wind ensemble including Heinz Holliger a run for its money. A real pleasure. Misha Donat