Serenade No. 10 in B flat, K361 ‘Gran Partita’; Serenade No. 11 in E flat, K375
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
Harmonia Mundi HMM902627 71:40 mins
If the wind serenade became popular as an evening’s light entertainment in the late 18th century, what passed for a bit of jollity and doubtless a good income in some compositional spheres turned into something rather different when Mozart applied himself to it. Written with an eye to attracting the ear of a court musician of Emperor Joseph II, the Serenade No. 11 in E flat is more complex than a contemporary might have expected, despite ostensibly fitting the five-movement framework typical of the form. Delightful, more expansive than compact, there is something a little operatic in it, recorded here in its octet version – for pairs of horns, clarinets, bassoons and oboes. It is infectiously played by the soloists of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, buoyant in the ‘Menuetto’, expressive in the Adagio, rich in the Allegro maestoso, fizzing all the way to the joyous Finale.
The Serenade No. 10 in B flat, Gran Partita, departs further from the serenade form with its seven movements, immediately weighty and beautifully played by the ensemble. There is nothing of the transitory entertainment in this, nothing designed to be half-heard outside in a haze of wine. The music is frequently sublime, the soloists of the Akademie chasing its sonorities around the ensemble. There is more depth here, more gravitas, more operatic sense and more expressive depth, until the perky clip of the finale, all meticulously sculpted by the Akademie soloists.
Sarah Urwin Jones