Mozart: Flute Concertos (CD review)

Also, Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter.” Jacques Zoon, flute; Martin Pearlman, Boston Baroque. Telarc CD-80624.

Taken on its own, this is a delightful, zesty treat, the Boston Baroque playing on period instruments without sounding edgy, and flutist Jacques Zoon handling the Flute Concertos in D major (K. 314) and G major (K. 313) with considerable aplomb. It’s only when you compare the music making to other recordings of a kind that you may notice any minor, subjective shortcomings.

Starting with the Flute Concertos, I compared K. 313 to Jean-Pierre Rampal’s 1966 recording with members of the Vienna Symphony on modern instruments (Erato). Here, three differences popped out at me. First, Rampal’s playing seems slightly sweeter, more delicate, more nuanced, and more poetic than Zoon’s, whose work is, nevertheless, quite fetching. Still, I preferred Rampal. Second, the Telarc recording with Boston Baroque sounds much faster paced, as we might expect from a period-instruments group, although the Boston players handle it in stride. While this makes for a more-thrilling ride than Rampal’s version, it’s not quite so graceful. And, third, the Telarc sonics (recorded in Mechanics Hall, 2004) appear somewhat warmer and softer than the older Vienna recording. However, this can actually be a benefit to the period-instruments sound, so the choice here may be a toss-up. Overall, though, on two of the three counts I slightly preferred Rampal’s rendition.

In the accompanying “Jupiter” Symphony, the comparisons I used were those of two period-instruments groups, one of the earliest of its kind, from the Collegium Aureum (RCA), and a more-recent one from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra (Harmonia Mundi). In these comparisons, I noticed the same quick tempos from Boston Baroque and the same thicker, warmer sound. Yet here it was harder to determine a clear preference. After listening for a few minutes to the Telarc, the older RCA interpretation sounded rather conventional, and the sound, though more transparent, seemed thinner, more wiry, and more sluggish. With the Harmonia Mundi disc everything sounded so good all the way around it made for no contest. Then, after listening to all three discs again for a while, the Telarc seemed a tad thick and overheated to me. I dunno.

I suspect that listeners will have to decide on the Telarc recording based on its coupling and its reputation. If you like the pieces of music presented on the disc, if you like Boston Baroque’s fleet, lively style, and if you like Telarc’s well-balanced but somewhat heavy sound, you’ll like this release. It’s certainly fun to listen to.

To listen to a few brief excerpts from this album, click here:


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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa