At 25, Barenboim was already an acclaimed Mozartean in 1967 when he made this excellent Sinfonia Concertante K. 297 with the English Chamber Orch. The work itself is not as fine as the better known Sinfonia Concertante K. 364 for violin and viola, but it's charming on its own. The four wind soloists are placed up close rather than being imbedded in the orchestra, and they deserve it, being first-rate musicians. Barenboim's tempos are a bit too relaxed, but this is the best thing on this EMI Gemini two-fer.
The masterpiece here is the Serenade for 13 Winds 'Gran Parita,' of which there are many competitive recordings. Barenboim's from 1976, again with ECO soloists, lacks the gravity of Klemperer's version (EMI) or the suavity of Stokowski's (Vanguard), but it's certainly well played and recorded. I only wish he didn't slide over the surface so easily--there's more depth than Barenboim is finding in this wonderful score.
The two concertos, for flute and oboe, are done with the Orchestre de Paris and its first-desk players, who both execute in a pointed, vivacious Gallic style. The Gramophone's reviewer hated the orchestral playing, finding it ponderous, but I don't hear that. True, period performances nowadays are quicker ad lighter, but these two readings are no heavier than the rest of the collection, which for its day was considered more streamlined than most.
In all, this is a good bargain, and only Barenboim's lack of vitality keeps it from being better than good.