German clarinetist Dieter Klöcker founded his Consortium Classicum in the 1960s and has occasionally devoted it to the rediscovery of obscure repertory for wind instruments. The group has made several recordings of Harmoniemusik or wind-band (paired oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons) arrangements of operas of the late 18th century, many of which were made by oboist and composer Johann Nepomuk Wendt. Mozart's operas underwent these arrangements, sometimes even at Mozart's own hands (he pulled an all-nighter to rush one out for Die Entführung aus dem Serail to beat a competitor), for wind bands were maintained by numerous Austrian noble establishments. This impeccably played recording gives a taste of music that might easily have been heard at a Viennese soiree in the weeks after the premiere of an opera by Antonio Salieri, Mozart's putative rival. Mozart himself wrote, "You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to score something...for wind band so that it suits the winds instruments properly and yet doesn't lose anything of the impact of the original," and the clockwork quality of these arrangements is impressive to hear. A bit more detail in the booklet about the individual operatic sources would have been helpful: it would have been nice to know, for example, what the Canzone, track 15, from Axur, Rè d'Ormus, was referring to with its sequential entrances of four solo winds. Presumably it was some kind of comic or romantic quartet. This was and remains incidental music, but it's likely that a contemporary audience will enjoy it as much as did the well-heeled Viennese of Mozart's day.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|La grotta di Trofonio|
|Axur, Rè d'Ormus|
|Palmira, Regina di Persia|