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MOZART Quartets for flute, violin, viola and cello
in D Major, KV 285; G Major, KV 285a; C Major, KV 285b; A Major, KV298

Claire Guimond, baroque flute
Ensemble Sonnerie
Monica Huggett, violin
Emilia Benjamin, viola
Alison McGillivray, cello

Recorded at : St-John's Church, Loughton, England July 2001 [56 mins]
EMCCD 7754 www.early-music.com

This CD was launched in UK at a concert in London during July 2003.

It all sounds far better on this recording, not least because one is well advised to listen to these pleasing but minor works separately; they did not make for a good concert programme, except perhaps for baroque flute specialists. Claire Guimond's sweet, gentle baroque flute could not quite hold its own with Monica Huggett's Sonnerie at Wigmore Hall, even against gut-stringed instruments played with discretion. It was sensitive and expressive playing, but lacked colour and projection needed in the live concert situation.

As I had anticipated, on CD the flute has been favoured with a +10% or so lift and with a close microphone, which brings out the special quality of the instrument better than in the concert, all is well.

The moral is that it may need five to make a baroque quartet; the acute ears of a balance engineer for recording or broadcasting, and a good pair of ears in the auditorium to assist preparation before a live concert. There are often problems with the delicate flute, and too with some fortepianos and harpsichords. Long experience of working together in an ensemble may help, of course, but I was interested to attend a rehearsal by the Takacs String Quartet during which they despatched their players in turn down to the audience seats to comment and criticise the other three working on stage!

Recommendable to specialists, but others might have been happier with mixed programmes? And with TT only 55'42" there was plenty of room to include something else to add variety.

© Peter Grahame Woolf