LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto in A, K622; Oboe Concerto in C, K314; Flute & Harp Concerto in C, K299
PERFORMER: Wolfgang Meyer (basset clarinet), Hans-Peter Westermann (oboe), Robert Wolf (flute), Naoko Yoshino (harp); Concentus Musicus Vienna/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-21476-2
There have already been excellent versions of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in its restored original form for basset clarinet from the likes of Antony Pay (L’Oiseau-Lyre) and Thea King (Hyperion). But for my money, Wolfgang Meyer’s performance eclipses all-comers. He draws a beautifully rounded, velvety tone from his instrument and phrases with rare imagination. More than Pay and King, Meyer stresses the undertow of melancholy in both the opening movement and the finale. Abetted by Harnoncourt, whose accompaniments are typically colourful and inventive, he is never afraid to stretch the pulse in response to a darkening of the harmony; and throughout the performance judgement of rubato struck me as extraordinarily apt.
The other two works come off equally well. In the Oboe Concerto Hans-Peter Westermann has a sweeter, fuller tone than Michel Piguet on the rival period-instrument recording under Hogwood (L’Oiseau-Lyre). In the finale I love the way Harnoncourt turns the little cadential theme into a stomping folk dance.
In the Flute and Harp Concerto, the cool, virginal tone of Robert Wolf’s flute combines enchantingly with Naoko Yoshino’s delicate, glittering harp. And although Harnoncourt’s characteristic flexibility of tempo may not be to everyone’s taste, I can’t remember hearing a performance that captures so persuasively the work’s leisured, Gallic grace, or the perfumed languor of its Andantino. Some may find these performances too highly nuanced. But for others this generously filled disc offers versions of all three concertos which it would be hard to beat, and not just in the arena of period performance.