Anyone who loves the masterpieces for winds written by Mozart rejoiced a few months ago when EMI released the 'Gran Partita' Serenade #10 with the superlative solo winds of the Berlin Philharmonic. But good as they are, they didn't have a conductor, and all the best recordings have one. It's difficult to marshall 13 winds, especially when they are first-desk players with strong personalities. In this case the orchestra in question is the London Sym.
Over the years I've loved versions of the Gran Partita led by Furtwangler, Klemperer, and Stokowski (the first has jsut come out on an exceptional remastering from EMI). The famed clarinetist Michael Collins doesn't rank with them, but as a wind conductor he's sensitive and alert. The romping sections really romp, the forlorn sections sigh, the stately sections move grandly forward. I also like the the lowest instrument is a contra-bassoon rather than the usual double bass, who is hardly audible in the ranks of a dozen woodwinds.
The Serenade in c minor K. 388 isn't nearly as poular because its overall tone lacks jollity. The minor key draws hesitant, inward, at times melancholy music from Mozart. No one is likely to be diverted at a party, at least not diverted into cheerfulness. But the work is a masterpiece nonetheless, and the London Winds play it as well as I've ever heard.