A life-affirming disc if ever there was one, this coupling of Mozart and Beethoven's quintets for piano and winds by the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet and pianist Stephen Hough is also an absolutely necessary disc. With an alert but relaxed ensemble, warm but cool balances, and light but propulsive rhythms, the Berlin players are ideally suited for these two masterpieces of the Viennese High Classical Period, and joined with Hough's masterful blend of intelligence, virtuosity, and soulfulness, the performances here are as close to perfect as is humanly possible. But what lifts the disc from the merely life-affirming to the absolutely necessary is the transcription for wind quintet plus piano of Mozart's Adagio in C minor and Rondeau in C major, better known as the Adagio and Rondeau for glass harmonica, flute, oboe, viola, and cello. The work has heretofore enjoyed a limited popularity owing to the restricted number of glass harmonica virtuosos, but as transcribed by flutist Michael Hasel, the work achieves a new lease on life here, as well as a superlative world-premiere recording by Hough and the wind quintet. Recorded in 2000 (Mozart) and 2004 (Beethoven) by producer Robert Suff, the sound of these performances is uniformly rich, wide, and full.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, horn & bassoon in E flat major, K. 452|
|Adagio and Rondo for glass harmonica, flute, oboe, viola & cello in C minor, K. 617|
|Quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, horn & bassoon in E flat major, Op. 16|