The Janet to whom tribute is paid here is Janet Craxton, one of the founders of the London Sinfonietta and the teacher of the oboist on the present release, Nicholas Daniel. She was better known in the third quarter of the 20th century than she is today, but this little album of chamber music has a nice balance that testifies to her continuing legacy. Craxton was the dedicatee of two very different works on the album, which says a lot for her versatility and sensitivity. These are the dense Cantata for oboe and string trio, Op. 15, of the young Oliver Knussen, and the thoroughly Mozartian Quartet for English horn, violin, viola, and cello of Jean Françaix, whose neglect ranks as one of the greatest crimes of self-serving modernism. You could sample this work to hear the ensemble skills of Daniel's quartet, who take quite challenging music and make it sound easy, or you could just turn to the first movement of the Oboe Quartet in F major, K. 370, which throughout is given one of the smoothest and most elegant performances on the market. The Phantasy, Op. 2, of the quartet's namesake Benjamin Britten is also quite affecting, and as a bonus you get a completion of a fascinating Mozart fragment, the Adagio for English Horn, K. 580a, by Daniel himself. The work's basic material was reused in the gorgeous late motet Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618. A splendid chamber music release that goes deep into the English tradition.
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Review by James Manheim
|Oboe Quartet K.370 in F major|
|Quatuor pour cor anglais, violon, alto et violoncelle|