SCO Winds - Mozart: Divertimenti - BBC Music Magazine
Mozart's E flat Serenade, K 375, for pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoons is one of the crowning glories of his functional music - amounting, in its formal sweep, inventiveness and sentiment to something far more rewarding than mere entertainment. This new recording offers his initial version of 1781 for clarinets, horns and bassoons; although one misses the astringency of the oboes - which he added later-in varying texture and pointing detail, the music is virtually the same. And by skilfully modulating their tone between the smooth and the raucous, the two clarinettists here contrive to minimise the absence of oboe timbre in what proves a lively and nicely nuanced reading.
The four earlier divertimentos, composed as background music for Salzburg garden parties and banquets at the archbishop's palace, contain nothing as substantial. Rather, they comprise relatively brief sequences of simple sonata forms, minuets, sets of variations, and so on, scored for pairs of oboes, horns and bassoons and all in bright major keys - though written with all Mozart's customary polish. In this CD, however, clarinets substitute for oboes throughout, which makes for a somewhat monotonous listen - could not the Scottish Chamber Orchestra oboes have been invited to sit in for at least two of the Divertimentos to vary the texture? That said, these are exuberant performances, recorded with real presence.