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Mozart/Beethoven Quintets for pianoforte and winds

Mozart: Quintet in E-flat major KV 452; Adagio in B minor for pianoforte KV 540
Beethoven: Quintet in E-flat major opus 16

Jan Vermeulen, pianoforte with Il gardellino

Accent records ACC 24201 [2007/2009]

This coupling of the two famous quintets with wind is illuminating and hugely enjoyable. A warning; after hearing this version of the Mozart, you may have problems with future hearings of it on modern instruments!

Beethoven modelled his quintet closely on Mozart's masterpiece ("the best thing I have yet written" he wrote to his father in 1784). None have been written with this instrumentation since then, claims Accent's commentary (can that really be true??).

Jan Vermeulen's performances are marked by a constant search for authenticity, historically grounded and well-considered; interpreted on period instruments that mostly belong to his own private collection of seven fortepianos.

I advise postponing complete delight. Play the Adagio solo first to savour the refinements of Vermeulen's Walter/Maene fortepiano, then follow on with the Beethoven.

Lastly marvel at how brilliantly Mozart accomodates the quieter keyboard instrument with the lustier winds.

Recording and presentation are superb; benchmark, I'd say, but a pity no image of them with their instruments is to be found?

Peter Grahame Woolf

Image at performance of this programme in Mechelen, 2006