Andrew Marriner

Mozart: Clarinet Concert; Clarinet Quintet

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The pairing here of Mozart's inspired Clarinet Concerto, K. 622, and his sublime Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, is not surprising, nor is the collaboration of conductor Sir Neville Marriner and his son, clarinetist Andrew Marriner, unusual, since both musicians have a natural affinity for this composer. The 2004 release of this album on the occasion of their birthdays -- the father's 80th, the son's 50th -- is attention-getting and perhaps charming, but their celebrations hardly provide a reason to choose this disc over others of comparable musical value. The refined playing of Marriner fils and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields is consistent and satisfactory, and fully meets expectations; this is what counts most. Ultimately, though, the benefits of DSD recording and 5.0 multichannel playback are this package's most obvious attractions, and audiophiles who already appreciate these masterpieces and the performers will enjoy this recording for its remarkably clean and spacious sound. In short, there is nothing objectionable about this hybrid SACD, except for PentaTone's claim that it is playable on standard CD equipment. It may work on some models -- in stereo only -- but older players may reject it because of its large store of data. So, with that one caveat, listeners may place their confidence in this solid recording.

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