Beethoven • Mozart
Beethoven: Variations on ‘La ci darem la mano’ from Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’; Mozart: Serenade No. 10 in B flat, K.361 ‘Gran Partita’
Members of the Concertgebouw Orchestra/Alexei Ogrintchouk (oboe)
BIS BIS-2463 (CD/SACD) 57:37 mins
Is there a more appropriate piece of music to lighten up the dreary winter months? Mozart’s Gran Partita teems with vibrancy and optimism, though in fact it encapsulates a surprisingly wide range of moods, from rustic humour in the Finale to the sublimity and tenderness of the glorious Adagio. Notwithstanding the considerable technical challenges of the woodwind writing, any worthy ensemble requires sufficient flexibility and variety of timbre to fully characterise each movement. Alexei Ogrintchouk, directing members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from the oboe, delivers a compelling performance that almost rivals the benchmark recording from the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Ensemble on Warner Classics. If the Berliners bring even greater verve to the fast outer movements, Ogrintchouk’s lyrical oboe playing and wonderful fluidity of line is magical in the Adagio, and the outer sections of the ‘Romance’ have a beautifully veiled tonal quality.
BIS’s recording is so spectacularly vivid that you can hear the collective intake of breath that precedes the opening chord. Neither this nor the sound of clattering keys disturbed me unduly, though some might prefer a more concert hall-like perspective. Beethoven’s entertaining Don Giovanni Variations is an unexpected bonus, though the Berliners’ offering of Mozart’s Serenade, K375 is much more musically substantial.