The recording of Così: Un opéra muet grew out of a collaboration between the mime troupe Omnibus and the wind quintet Pentaèdre. The program notes disarmingly ask, "One could question the pertinence of recording, without visual support, a quasi-complete opera by Mozart in an arrangement for wind quintet." But thank goodness a silly question like that didn't get in the way of making this delightful CD. The transcriptions of 24 selections from Così fan tutte, made by Ulf-Guido Schäfer with help from the members of the quintet, are completely charming and constitute a significant contribution to the limited repertoire of excellent music for wind quintet. The transcriptions are idiomatically and gracefully written, taking into account the conventions of Mozart's chamber music for winds. Knowing the story of the opera and the words of the arias and ensembles can enhance the pleasure of the performance, but the pieces are fully satisfying in themselves, as abstract chamber music. While most ensembles may not want to program the nearly 80 minutes of music all at once, a suite of pieces would make a terrific addition to a quintet concert. The performances by Pentaèdre are subtle, nuanced, and at times breathtakingly agile. The crystalline sound quality perfectly suits these jewel-like miniatures. This is one of those few CDs that can be called a pure joy.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Così fan tutte, opera, K. 588|