By John J. Puccio
Opening the program is the Serenade No. 11 in E-flat major, K. 375, written in 1781. It has five movements, and the Akademie play the revised version, which uses two oboes in addition to two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns. The Akademie players are very precise in their coordination and articulation, so it’s a pleasure listening to their immaculate group effort. However, they do not seem to produce an abundance of joy, gusto, or cheer. Although they are not a somber ensemble--far from it with their brisk tempos--they are not a particularly exciting or jubilant one, either. They appear more businesslike, placing their emphasis on efficiency rather than exultation or merriment. Still, they produce such a soothing, pleasing sound, it’s hard not to like and admire their presentation.
Again, the Akademie play the serenade in a noble and assured manner with little room for playfulness. They are a purposeful group intent on performing the music as accurately as possible. As such, No. 10 comes off with a regal splendor, in which you may or may not hear a divine voice. It’s more earthbound than that, while nevertheless remaining a delight.
Artistic Director Martin Sauer and engineer Rene Moller recorded the music at Teldex Studio Berlin, Germany in January 2020. Miked a bit closely, the sound is extremely well detailed, transparent, and dynamic. Having as few players as there are involved ensures textural clarity but not a lot of air around the instruments or depth to the stage. No matter; the recording’s cleanness and lucidity win the day.
To listen to a brief excerpt from Serenade No. 10, click below: