Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante; Flute & Harp Concerto

Orchestra Mozart / Claudio Abbado / Lucas Macias Navarro

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Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante; Flute & Harp Concerto Review

by Blair Sanderson

While Claudio Abbado is famous as a conductor of modern, full-sized symphony orchestras, he has cultivated a sideline in period-style performances with his chamber-sized Orchestra Mozart, and their polished results have met with positive responses from critics and fans alike. Previous releases on the Deutsche Grammophon label have been devoted to Mozart's late symphonies, but this 2011 album marks an expansion of their repertoire into the concerto genre with performances of the Sinfonia Concertante for winds in E flat major, K. 297b, and the Concerto for flute, harp, and orchestra in C major, K. 299 (297c). Abbado and his hand-picked musicians are comfortable with historically informed practices and the tone colors of period instruments, and their playing resembles a merging of styles, because they are authentically Classical in sonority and accurate in scale, yet warm in expression and somewhat flexible in tempos and dynamics, which are traits of more modern interpretations. This amounts to having Mozart performed without a rigidly doctrinaire approach, and listeners who want authenticity balanced with expressiveness can find both in these recordings. The woodwind soloists sound pungent and stand out for their distinctive timbres, and the strings are generally played with minimal vibrato, though the warm blend of this Bolognese orchestra is quite a change from the customary iciness of some period ensembles; this shows that Abbado knows how to use the best of authenticist and modernist methods to the ultimate benefit of the music. The clean and vibrant sound of these live recordings is typical of Deutsche Grammophon's reproduction at its finest.

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