Beethoven • Mozart

BBC Music Magazine - - Chamber -

Quin­tets for Pi­ano and Winds

En­sem­ble Dialoghi

Har­mo­nia Mundi HMM 905296 51:08 mins

Mozart re­garded his Quin­tet for pi­ano and winds K452, writ­ten in 1784 when he was 28, as the finest thing he had done, in an en­thu­si­as­tic let­ter to his fa­ther. In it he faced the chal­lenge of cop­ing with in­stru­ments which can eas­ily sound

com­pet­i­tive with one an­other rather than col­lab­o­ra­tive. In this record­ing, played on re­pro­duc­tions of pe­riod in­stru­ments, that is ex­actly what hap­pens, to a point where I found the sound pos­i­tively ugly, some­thing hard to imag­ine com­ing from Mozart. ★e had re­alised the prob­lem, and was pleased with hav­ing coped with it; whether he would have been pleased with this record­ing is an­other mat­ter.

I am not a fan of most as­pects of ‘au­then­tic­ity’, and if I wanted one record­ing to demon­strate why, this would be a per­fect ex­am­ple. The fortepi­ano evokes au­ral images of a de­serted pub, and the four wind soloists vie with one an­other in acrid­ity. I sub­jected my­self to it sev­eral times, but my el­derly prej­u­dices re­fused to budge. Oddly enough, the early Beethoven work, writ­ten when he was 26 and in­spired al­most cer­tainly by the Mozart, I found less dis­agree­able. I tried the record­ing of K452 with Radu Lupu at the pi­ano and mod­ern in­stru­ments all round, and found it balm, though still in­ci­sive. The book­let for the disc con­tains huge ar­ti­cles by sev­eral schol­ars, and gives a se­cond-by­sec­ond com­men­tary, which I can’t imag­ine any­one fol­low­ing.

Michael Tan­ner



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