Monday, September 12, 2011

Mozart: Clarinet Concerto / Oboe Concerto -Antony Pay / Michel Piguet / The Academy of Ancient Music / Christopher Hogwood

This CD is a successful coming-together of two of Mozart's best concerti, two brilliant soloists and some very good conducting.
More often than not, the Oboe Concerto in C is heard in its flute version - transposed to the key of D. This recording presents Mozart's original layout of the oboe concerto played with period instruments or accurate replicas. The bold stability of the key of C major suits the optimism of this concerto, composed in what many call Mozart's mid-period. Fresh yet mature, the language is extremely expressive. The contrast between the three movements goes to the heart of 18th-Century theory on dramatic contrasts - with the confident Allegro, the lyric Adagio and the bouncy Allegretto.
Tempo choice is impeccable. Orchestral textures come across as vibrant and dynamic thanks to the consummate experience of the Academy of Ancient Music, one of the premier Baroque orchestras. But the playing of Michel Piguet is what really sets this performance apart. The sheer fire he puts into the solo makes this music as current and heartfelt as if he really "lived it." His sound is full and expressive, and his choice of cadenzas nothing short of exquisite. The climax to the high "e" in the first movement's cadenza - and the way Piguet reaches it - is delightful.
The Clarinet Concerto brings the listener to another mood - that of Mozart's more somber "third period." Compared to the oboe concerto, the tones are darker, the melodic phrases longer and the counterpoint between the solo and the orchestral voices more complex and pronounced.
One of the important things that sets this CD apart is this. Mozart did not write this piece for a conventional clarinet (in A or Bb) - but for an experimental hybrid instrument capable of extending the clarinet's normal range down to a low and eerie bass register. This instrument, the "Basset Clarinet" was reconstructed for this recording and played masterfully by Anthony Pay.
Thus, the many passages that were transposed an octave higher to suit the modern clarinet (losing most of their dramatic flare) have been restored to their proper pitch - much to the music's advantage. Hear the basset clarinet's "dialogues" between its high and low register, close your eyes and imagine a soprano and a baritone exchanging lines in a sublime opera...
Good choice on continuo playing too. Rather than conducting from the podium as modern conductors do, Hogwood conducts from the harpsichord and the fortepiano respectively. This adds yet more contrast to the different colors of the two concerti - the first brighter, the second rounder and more sedate.
Overall, an excellent CD, that combines great musicological research with expressiveness, fire and passion.



swamielmo said...

Hey cool. love hogwood the oboe and the clarinet and what could I possibly say about mozart. maybe the voice of a godlike being. thanks

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swamielmo said...

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The address "" in the "To" field was not recognized. Please make sure that all addresses are properly formed.

Jizzrelics said...

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