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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphonie concertante in E flat major K364 (1779) [32:23]
Duo in G major K423 (1783) [17:11]
Duo in B flat major, K424 (1783) [21:26]
Jan Talich Jr. (violin); Jan Talich Sr. (viola)
Talich Chamber Orchestra/Kurt Redel
rec. 1992, Prague
CALLIOPE CAL1212 [71:20]

I’m having quite a job trying to keep up with the Calliope label. Many of its releases from the 1990s are beginning to crop up on the bargain Phaia Music label, which presents standard repertoire in unadorned fashion, usually without documentation of much or any kind.
 
The release under review was recorded in Prague in 1992 which was a couple or so years before Czech violinist Petr Messiereur and pianist Stanislav Bogunia recorded their set of the Beethoven Violin Sonatas for Calliope, now just reissued on Phaia. This Mozart disc however appears under the Calliope flag with a production date of 2012. Inside I notice promotional material for violin soloist Jan Talich’s Bartók duos recording on Indesens, so presumably there’s some strong connection between these French labels.
 
Which brings us to the Sinfonia Concertante, at last. Jan Talich, junior, is the violinist and his father, Jan Talich, senior, is the violist. The Czech musical world is awash with Talich family members, some related, and some not. The Talich Chamber Orchestra provides highly effective support and is marshalled by Kurt Redel, who would have been about 74 at the time. He’s a most interesting choice as conductor and a long time stalwart of the classical repertoire. I recall his discs with the Munich Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra with admiration, not least his accompaniments for Devy Erlih and Henry Merckel in Bach concertos. There’s another reason to be interested in Redel. Back in the early 1960s he made a classic recording of the Sinfonia Concertante with the Czech Philharmonic, supporting Josef Suk and Milan ţkampa. The LP, with its lovely ‘Ferrania Color’ sleeve of a Jundriška Marcová photograph of a red roofed church, has graced my shelves for many a long year. I happen to find it rather touching that Redel should have been invited back to Prague to re-record the work with a younger generation of native soloists and performers. Thirty years on he still accompanies with warmth and deft pointing. The two soloists must have played this work with their own ensemble numerous times — though I do wonder if they played it without conductor — and their ensemble is predictably tight, their tone qualities well matched. Talich Jr has a bright tone, lacking any edginess, whilst his father’s viola is in the august Czech tradition and brings considerable pathos to the slow movement where expressive dignity is at its height. Maybe the finale could be a touch more infectious and the viola’s intonation a little bit more exact. Otherwise this is an affectionate reading.
 
The Suk/ţkampa LP had one coupling, a performance of the Duo in B flat major, K424. To cement the homage that this disc clearly pays to that old one, the Talich team plays both Duos. Thus they include the G major, K423. Interplay and exchanges are delightfully pursued here, not least in the slow movement of the G major.
 
The sound quality is fine, whilst the notes, in French and in English translation, are confined to the music, adding nothing about the performers.
 
Admirers of both these fine string players will relish the opportunity to hear these well characterised and engaging traversals.
 
Jonathan Woolf

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