Mozart: Flute & Harp concerto, Sinfonia Concertante - Buribayev

Mozart: Flute & Harp concerto, Sinfonia Concertante - Buribayev

Lawo Classics  LWC1071

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Mozart: Flute & Harp Concerto; Sinfonia Concertante for Winds

Per Flemström, flute (Flemstrom)
Birgitte Volan Håvik, harp (Havik)
Leif Arne Pedersen, clarinet
Per Hannisdal, bassoon
Inger Besserudhage, horn
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Alan Buribayev

In 1778, Mozart spent half a year in Paris accompanied by his mother, Anna Maria. Tragedy struck in the middle of the summer, when she died of fever. Both works on this album were composed during the first weeks after their arrival in the city. In a letter to his father dated April 7, 1778, Mozart wrote that he had composed a sinfonia concertante for Mannheim musicians visiting Paris, scored for flute, oboe, horn, and bassoon. The work on this recording is considered to be a revised copy of the score, with the flute replaced by a clarinet.

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Recorded in Oslo Concert Hall, 12-16 November 2012 and 21-25 January 2013
Producer & Editing: Vergard Landaas
Mixing Engineers: Arne Akselberg, Thomas Wolden
Balance Engineers: Arne Akselberg, Thomas Wolden
Mastering: Thomas Wolden
Reviews (1)

Review by John Miller - April 7, 2015

In 1778, Leopold Mozart insisted that his 22 year old son go with his mother to France, where he should introduce himself to the court at Versailles. This venture was a disaster in many ways. The travellers had to live in a sleazy hotel, so while Mozart was out being rebuffed by the French nobility (he knew very little French), his mother was marooned in a dark, cold room with little food. In the summer she became seriously ill and died on July 3, 1778.

Mozart survived in near poverty by teaching piano lessons to a few young students. Prior to his mother's death, he had begun work on a Concerto for Flute and Harp commissioned by the Count of Guines, Governor of the province of Artois, for the flautist Count to play with his harpist elder daughter. Letters by Mozart suggest that he found both flute and harp boring (although this could be one of his many "stirring" correspondences with his father).

The Concerto for Flute and Harp skilfully deals with the delicate solo instruments in accordance with their amateur players, giving them an abundance of melodic material. The concert harp, still under development, was treated more like a plucked fortepiano, but both instruments have virtuosic passages. Throughout the concerto, there is a constantly changing tonal palette; the strings are given special sonority, partly because of the use of two viola parts and the artful control of the wind instruments designed not to upstage the soloists. The outer movements play with Mozart's most gracious 'galant' style, but the slow movement, bereft of oboe and horns, goes far beyond the usual 'arioso' to a type of romance which dominated his later works. After all this work, the Count declined to pay Mozart, and he had to beg from the Housekeeper, receiving only half of the fee agreed with his master. There is no evidence that the Concerto was ever played in the household.

The autograph of Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds in E flat major, for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, and orchestra, K. 297b (Anh. C 14.01) is missing. From a letter, we know that Mozart originally wrote a work for flute, oboe, horn, bassoon, and orchestra, K. Anh. 9 (279B), in Paris in April 1778. Parts found in the German Jahn Estate in 1870, were thought to be the Sinfonia Concertante Mozart wrote in Paris. However, authenticity questions have been debated throughout the 20th Century on differing instrumentation. There is considerable academic dispute about the relation of the discovered work to the assumed original work as it is performed today. The authoritative Mozart Project now considers this piece as "spurious or doubtful", and it does not appear on the project's listing of concertos. Nonetheless, musicians regard it highly and it is popular on concert platforms. On this disc, a further change is the replacement of the oboe with the clarinet. Interestingly, the Concertante also has two viola parts like the Flute and Harp Concerto.

From the very first bars, I was captivated. This is one of those discs where everything just goes right, in performance and in recording. The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra is beautifully balanced, with its winds well in evidence, suggesting that the strings might have been reduced from their full complement, a format used by many large orchestras in these days of better understanding of Classical performance practice - even the Berlin Philharmonic now routinely cuts its numbers for Mozart and Beethoven. The Oslo string sound is sweet and silky, with violins divided left and right. Everything is bright, airy and finely detailed; the orchestra is as polished and luminous as any devotee of period practice could desire. Players have evidently abandoned the old idea that classical music was played metrically; now it has been confirmed that performances should regain some of the free, creative spirit that the most accomplished Classical and Romantic musicians brought to the performance of music in their own day.

Soloists in the Concerto for Flute and Harp feature Per Flemstrøm (flute) and Birgitte Volan Håvik (harp); soloists on Sinfonia Concertante are Pavel Sokolov (oboe), Leif Arne Pedersen (clarinet), Per Hannisdal (bassoon) and Inger Besserudhagen (horn). They are all principals of their respective sections in the Oslo Philharmonic and have extensive experience in chamber music and solo work. Instead of invited soloists, the close interaction between the principals themselves and the reactions of the rest of the ensemble makes for a mature and wholly integrated reading. Conductors are Alan Buribayev (Concerto for Flute and Harp) and Arvid Engegård (Sinfonia Concertante), who certainly played their parts in these remarkable performances.

Oslo's Concert Hall, completed in 1997, is the Philharmonic's home, but its acoustics have been controversial and have required improvements. In 2000, Mariss Jansons, who brought the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra into the world arena, resigned his position after disputes with the city over the problematic acoustics of the hall. Having myself listened to Mozart in the timber-lined main Auditorium (with audience) I wasn't aware of any distinct problem. Lawo's balance, by engineers Arne Akselburg and Thomas Wolden at sessions in the empty hall, is superb, with astonishing transparency, intimate positioning of the soloists and clear disposition of the whole orchestra in realistic front-back perspective. High resolution capture displays all the subtle changes of timbre and mood in the solos in a pleasant, clean ambience. The Stereo track is excellent, but the 5.0 Multichannel has an astonishingly sharply focussed 3-D impression which effortlessly conveys Oslo's Concert Hall image into the listening room.

Lithe, polished yet spontaneous sounding interpretations combine thoughtfulness with spontaneity, and are at least on a par with my previous favourites of these Mozart pieces (Abbado with his Orchestra Mozart and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe). Recorded by Lawo Classics with winning warmth and an uncanny sense of immediacy, this disc will delight. It certainly keeps visiting my player!

Copyright © 2015 John Miller and


Sonics (Stereo):

Sonics (Multichannel):

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Comments (12)

Comment by Robert Fernandes - October 6, 2020 (1 of 12)

Has anyone been able to find, and purchase, this SACD recently? Both PRESTO and JPC say that all they have is standard CD's. All of the sellers on appear to be carry CD's and not SACD. I prefer not to try Amazon because it is not easy to verify the pedigree of the disc. The LAWO store still shows that the SACD is available. I contacted them about a month ago to verify this but they have not responded.

Comment by Athenaeus - October 6, 2020 (2 of 12)

Robert Fernandes, I don't own this disc but I had a look around the Internet and it seems clear that Lawo only released one version of this recording. Its catalogue number is LWC1071 and its UPC is 7090020180830. If one searches for this UPC on most sites (Amazon, Presto, etc.), they do indeed describe this release as an RBCD only. However, if one does the same search by UPC on Google Images, one gets pictures of the back of the case and it says at the bottom "SACD Surround 5.0/SACD Stereo/CD Stereo". If what Lawo printed on their discs is true, I think you can confidently order this release from anywhere and be assured you will get an SACD, even if the vendor's site doesn't state clearly that it's an SACD.

Comment by breydon_music - October 7, 2020 (3 of 12)

A slight word of caution here from bitter experience! A while ago now I bought a Challenge Classics issue (not ever listed on this site, I have to say in fairness) on the basis of lots of web images with a SACD logo on the front cover. It arrived without the logo and was a standard CD. With the benefit of hindsight I then discovered that there were an equal number of cover images on the net without the logo! Presumably at some point Challenge produced a "SACD" cover and then changed it before the disc was issued. That may be what has happened here - it was announced and cover art produced as a SACD but then changed to RBCD. Certainly Lawo pulled out of SACD production after quite a short time so that might tie in.

Comment by Adrian Quanjer - October 7, 2020 (4 of 12)

Which Challenge Classics release?

Comment by breydon_music - October 8, 2020 (5 of 12)

Cyril Scott : Visions by Nino Gvetadze - I had to go on to UK Amazon to find this, and strangely enough their listing picture still shows the SACD logo! A real disappointment as I very much liked her previous releases and also the music of Cyril Scott, for which she clearly has a particular passion.

Comment by Athenaeus - October 8, 2020 (6 of 12)

In this case, we know the disc was originally released as an SACD and Lawo's website still says it's an SACD. Lawo could later have reissued the disc as an RBCD; record labels sometimes do that. However, if Lawo is a properly run company, they would certainly mention the change. Plus, SACDs that are incorrectly described as plain CDs on vendors' websites is something that happens often. Once again, if I wanted this disc (as an SACD, of course), I wouldn't hesitate to order it from the most convenient vendor no matter what it says on their site. I would just make sure it's the right UPC (that's the number below the barcode).

Comment by Robert Fernandes - October 8, 2020 (7 of 12)

LAWO replied yesterday with the following:

"I checked this CD in our store, and it says SACD on the cover, so it definitely is a SACD. I haven’t heard of two different editions of this or any of LAWO’s CDs, however I can’t be completely sure what other sellers sell. We also send CDs internationally for 50 NOK shipping (roughly 5 EUROS)"

Not sure what to make of not being sure "what other sellers sell." So, I will follow Athenaeus' advice and take the plunge and see what turns up. Thanks for you help.

Comment by Athenaeus - October 8, 2020 (8 of 12)

Fortune favours the bold...

And when you receive your copy, please let us know how it went.

Comment by Mark Werlin - October 8, 2020 (9 of 12)

Robert: I own this SACD and can confirm the catalogue number and UPC number posted by Athenaeus. The cover has the SACD logo printed on the front, and "SACD Surround 5.0/SACD Stereo/CD Stereo” in very small print on the back cover.

Edited. The artwork on this site and on vendor sites for some LAWO SACDs does not always include the SACD logo, even when the item is in fact an SACD.

Breydon: The Challenge album of Cyril Scott’s piano music is available as a hi-res download as well as a CD. In a two-channel system, a 24/96 or 24/192 album download can provide a listening experience comparable to an SACD sourced from those resolutions. We shouldn't expect labels to incur the additional costs and delays of manufacturing and distributing a physical SACD of a release that is unlikely to recoup their investment.

Last edit: Prompted by this thread, I just purchased the Nino Gvetadze Cyril Scott Visions album in 24/96. Many thanks, Breydon -- I wasn't aware of the recording.

Comment by Adrian Quanjer - October 9, 2020 (10 of 12)

On the issue of Challenge Classis, CC confirms that the only 'real' cover is the one on their website: We must therefore conclude that this (and possibly other similar ones) are fake:

Comment by Adrian Quanjer - October 10, 2020 (11 of 12)

And the other way around exists as well: Mendelssohn: The Young Genius - Van Swieten Society No SACD logo on the cover though it clearly is. Not only my player says so: DSD MC, but my ears tell me the same. (and John Miller's review is spot on!)

Comment by Robert Fernandes - October 28, 2020 (12 of 12)

I can happily report that I have recived an SACD! I ordered from ArkivMusic as they are here in the States and indicated it was in stock. There website clearly indicated it was a CD and it did not come up when searching for an SACD. The album cover image did, however, show the SACD logo. Thanks again for all the assistance!