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The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin are radiant in this recording. The CD draws attention to Mozart’s interest in the works of Bach, repertoire he regularly encountered at the Vienna home of Baron van Swieten during the early 1780s.

Alongside Mozart’s arrangements for string quartet of four Fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier, the disc includes one further four- and two five-part arrangements located in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. These anonymous collections draw on some of the same Fugues arranged by Mozart, and appeared before any printed edition of Bach’s original work had been produced.

Mozart’s Fuga a due Cembali K.426 (1783) features as well as his own arrangement for strings, Adagio and Fugue in C minor K.546 (1788). This own arrangement clarifies several queries: firstly, the inclusion of the Adagio in Mozart’s string version might suggest the intention of some prelude-like opening; and secondly, the divided lower strings into ‘violoncelli’ and ‘Contra Bassi’ implies a string orchestra rather than the quartet.

The Berlin ensemble takes a number of liberties: borrowing Adagios from the 1796 anonymous manuscripts, performing with solo strings and with larger ensemble and introducing wind instruments where the musical range will fit. Mozart or not, this is glorious music beautifully played: a fascinating collection.

Jane Booth Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing