artistic quality: EXCELLENT
technical judgment: EXCELLENT: Dynamics 4 Soundstage 4 Timbre 4 Detail 4
The wind instruments had a significant evolution in the second half of the eighteenth century, when the repertoire for this type of sonority was enriched enormously. Until then a role was reserved for these instrumental groups almost exclusively of pure entertainment, which was to perform music specially composed for parties and ceremonies, in court or larger private residences, often performed outdoors. Even Mozart was able to try his hand at this genre and being the King Midas of music that he was, he was able to turn any work to gold; even then his contribution was decisive. In fact, he was able to compose Divertimenti and Serenades that exploited in an admirable way the colors of the different instrumental pairs, exhibiting a freshness and melodic inventiveness that went beyond any standard of the day. This meant, of course, the fact that those who performed his works had to have exceptional expressive and dynamic virtuosic skills, i.e. those that are required in those players dedicated to the great chamber repertoire. This disc has two of the most famous Serenades of the divine genius of Salzburg, K. 361 (Gran Partita) in B flat major K. 375 and in E flat major. It is believed almost with certainty that the Serenade K. 361 was written around 1781 in Vienna. The title of “Gran Partita”, reported on the first page of the score, is not attributable to Mozart, but more likely to Georg Nikolaus von Nissen, Constanze’s second husband and first biographer of Mozart; it is believed that this Serenade was a gift from Mozart for their wedding celebrated August 4, 1782.
Mozart’s Serenade occupies a position of great importance catalog for the grandeur of the formal structure (which has seven movements), for the lovely melodic and harmonic invention and originality of the instrumentation: to the expected two clarinets, two bassoons and two horns, Mozart added a second pair of horns, bass clarinet and two basset horns as well as the more conventional presence of two oboes. In October of that same 1781 Mozart also composed the Serenade K. 375, originally written for six instruments (that is, two clarinets, two horns and two bassoons) and then reworked at a later time, in July of the following year, for eight instruments including two oboe that reflect part of the lines of clarinets. Boasting an unusually severe style, the Serenade K. 375, composed in five days, shows many original features because it uses ambivalent conventional elements together with innovative solutions, producing the extroverted tone and airiness typical of the genre and giving at the same time glimpses of a melodically introspective, almost romantic flavor.
This recording is actually the premiere full version of the K.375 Serenade, as Santiago Mantas has restored the trio in the second Menuet written by Mozart but excluded from the published score, and has corrected errors that appeared in the published score. The octet of wind instruments of the European Union Chamber Orchestra, directed by Mantas, are very convincing, with instruments that really sing in Mozart’s magic writing.
The artistic excellence of the CD is further enhanced by the sound engineering by Tony Faulkner, who has given the sound of the wind instruments, both dynamically and tonally, a more than adequate and high standard recording.