The veteran Baroque specialist Trevor Pinnock has made a strong series of Mozart recordings with his English Concert historical-performance orchestra. Here, with the more youthful Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble, he achieves one of his most distinctive Mozart creations. The sizable Serenade in B flat major for 13 winds, K. 361, is a work that lacks obvious tunes and can, in many performances, collapse under its own weight. Pinnock forges an extremely distinctive reading that brings out the inner polyphony in this outwardly non-polyphonic work. His ensemble passages are dense blocks of sound that have an abstract, almost Webern-like quality. To hear it at its best, sample one of the pair of minuets (tracks 2 and 4), where any galant quality to the music is pushed deep into the background. It's hard to imagine this as a "serenade," but the truth is that the circumstances of composition of this work, like those of the last three Mozart symphonies, are unknown, and Pinnock's reading is as valid as any other. Linn's chilly sound, recorded at St. George's in Bristol, fits the concept, and an added attraction is the little-recorded Notturno No. 8 in G major, Hob. 2/27, which brings down the curtain and lowers the tension a bit with a fine example of the mature Haydn's jocularity. An often fascinating example of Pinnock's way with Mozart.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Serenade in B flat major, K. 361, 'Gran Partita'|
|Notturno No. 8 in G major, Hob. II:27|