Is the K.297b genuine Mozart or not? I've always had my doubts but there can be no denying that Claudio Abbado's Orchestra and his superb wind soloists make a convincing case. And even if it's not all by Mozart, then it's super music-making all the same.
There seems little point in trying to dissect these performances - a bit like trying to describe what makes a rose or a sunset so special.
As I said in my previous review of the Horn concertos, pour another glass of wine and enjoy top level music making. Here's hoping Claudio and co will turn their attention the bassoon and clarinet concertos.
on 5 March 2012
"You'd better get this stuff downstairs like the Captain said," the guard growled affably. "I'm gonna go pinch a loaf. When I get back, this is all gone, right?"
Andy Dufresne nodded his head but he was too besotted with the treasure that had come his way - boxes of old LPs from the State Comptroller's Office - to pay much attention to the command. Soon he was alone and leafing through the records. Sure, there was a copy of Le Nozze di Figaro with Karl Bohm - he so wanted to listen to Edith Mathis and Gundula Janowitz sing `Che soave zeffiretto' - but something stayed his hand. He soon learnt why: his eyes alighted on a copy of Claudio Abbado and the Orchestra Mozart (no less) performing the Flute and Harp Concerto, K 299, and the Sinfonia Concertante K 297b. Andy was a lover of fine music; he knew that Abbado had previously released a performance of the former concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic that had been condemned by the United Nations (genocide as boredom). With the devil perched on his shoulder, he smiled. Here was his chance to exact some revenge on those the powers that had wrongly incarcerated him in this hellhole.
The former accountant locked the glass-door that led into the office. On tiptoes, he then darted over to the toilet and barricaded it.
"Andy ! Andy!" the guard shrieked from inside. "What's going on?"
His question went unanswered. Andy switched on the PA system and placed the record onto the turntable. Seconds later, the art of Claudio Abbado - the corpse who walks - was assailing the darkest crevasses of Shawshank penitenary. The performances were thoroughly laced with Hogwoodism at its most virulent: repudiate grandeur and grace - tick; clip the phrases - tick; revel in anaemic strings - tick, and adopt madcap speeds - tick. Never had Andy heard the beloved second subject of the Sinfonia Concertante's opening movement sound so mundane - and the soloists were just as bland as the conductor. Uncle Claudio had actually trumped his previous account of K 299 on EMI: far more than scratch marks on the inside of coffin lids, this newcomer was proof of animation after death.
Bedlam erupted throughout the gaol. Prisoners threw themselves at the electric fence to escape the tediousness. Inside the laundry, those inmates with `hard-to-meet needs' were running amok among the smaller guys. Those poor devils in solitary confinement bashed their skulls against the walls.
With his feet up on the desk, Andy was aware of all these things and more as he listened on with a smile.
"Open the door," the Warden roared, standing on the other side of the glass door with his goons in attendance. "Or at least play the Bohm from 1966 in the Sinfonia Concertante or Marriner 1972 in the Flute and Harp Concerto."
Andy looked up dreamily at the ceiling. The slow movement of K 297b was upon them. It was shamefully spruce. Abbado clearly does not understand what the word `Adagio' means anymore, he mused to himself. No other response was forthcoming. The Warden stepped aside. Now Hadley, the chief goon was standing at the door and tapping away on its glass with his truncheon.
"Knock, knock," he whispered.