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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Oboe Quartet in F major, K. 370 (1781) [14:01]
Concerto in C major for Oboe and Orchestra, K. 314 (1777) [19:48]
Sonata for Violin and Piano in B-flat major, K. 378 (1779-80) [20:58]
Alexei Ogrintchouk (oboe)
Boris Brovtsyn (violin), Maxim Rysanov (viola), Kristina Blaumane (cello)
Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra
Leonid Ogrintchouk (piano)
rec. April 2012, Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall, Vilnius, Lithuania (Quartet, Concerto) and August 2011, Sensesaal Bremen, Germany (Sonata).
BIS BIS-SACD-2007 [55:52]

This is a lively and varied selection of works with oboe by Mozart, and if like me you were won over by Alexei Ogrintchouk’s warm and limpid tone in his album of Bach concertos from BIS (see review), then this is certain to go on your want-list.
The rewards from this release are many, opening with the Oboe Quartet in F major, K. 370 which is filled with playful delights. Written to showcase the virtuosity of Friederich Ramm, you can tell by the busy clack of the keys that Mozart gave the player’s fingers a good deal to work on in the opening Allegro. Ogrintchouk’s easy style takes all this in its stride, and musicality is to the fore rather than any edge of the seat sense of danger. The lyrical Adagio which follows is sublime, and there is more good humoured instrumental banter in the final Rondo. I don’t know of any better recordings than this, though Joris van de Hauwe is pretty good on Naxos 8.555913 (see review). The difference in vibrato is interesting here, with Hauwe expressive and colourful with a tight but distinctive movement in his tone, where Ogrintchouk’s is less pronounced and barely noticeable by comparison, though by no means absent. An all-star trio is no guarantee of excellent chamber music making, but in this case everyone is beautifully integrated and everything is in the service of Mozart’s marvellous music.
Flautists know the Concerto, K. 314 as well as oboists, but Mozart’s arrangement for flute came later, and the oboe shimmers above the orchestra gorgeously in this recording. Listening with headphones does somewhat highlight the key clicks in the outer movements, but this is less bothersome over speakers. It doesn’t sound as if Ogrintchouk is recorded that closely, and as with bassoons and other relatively antique keyed instruments this is commonly part of the package, though as other recordings show it doesn’t always have to be quite so prominent. Both orchestra and soloist are very fine in this work as you would expect, and the cadenzas sound fresh and improvisatory. There’s a Carus release, 83.124, which also places the Quartet K. 370 with the this concerto, but while soloist Lajus Lencsés’s playing is very fine and the recording avoids picking up key clicks, there are some funny acoustic things going on in the strings of the accompanying trio in K. 370, and the concerto is good but rather heavier sounding than the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra for BIS. If you’re a fan of Mozart’s wind concertos then you could do worse than the Nimbus set NI 2560/70 (see review) though this is performed on period instruments and is more of a compliment to the BIS release than a competitor. Intriguingly, Ogrintchouk is in competition with himself in this work, having already recorded it on Pentatone PTC5186079 with the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra. This version has the roomy Concertgebouw acoustic to its advantage, and sounds a bit more beefy as a result. The slow movement is somewhat broader but tempi and timings are otherwise very similar, and with a more generous sonic perspective the key clicks are no longer an issue. This is coupled with the horn and flute concertos No. 1 and the bassoon concerto K 191 so is an entirely different prospect but by no means an unenticing one. I can’t think of many other recordings of this concerto better than this BIS recording, and if you prefer your Mozart light and transparent then it still ticks all the boxes.
The third and final work is one of many transcriptions of the Sonata for Violin and Piano in B-flat major, K. 378, and it works superbly with oboe, especially with Alexei Ogrintchouk’s light touch and superlative expressiveness. Leonid Ogrintchouk is a fine accompanist and these players are of course attuned and responsive to each other as few others could be. All in all this is a very fine package, and the sheer variety of works on offer is very much a strength in repertoire which is by no means hard to find elsewhere. BIS’s SACD and stereo sound is spacious and nicely balanced, and the booklet notes by John Irving are well written as well as being fairly detailed and erudite.
Dominy Clements