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These three works were composed in the course of a single month in 1784. (Let that sink in for a moment…) The three manuscripts were dated respectively 15, 22 and 30 March, written primarily for the composer to perform himself. They are full of the joys of youth and life, perhaps in recognition of his wife Constanze’s second pregnancy (she gave birth to their son Karl the following September).

In K450 and K451, Mozart really started to refine his ideal of the concerto form, with more emphasis on the woodwind – adding a flute in the rondo finale – and increasingly the diffi culty of the work, especially in that final Allegro. Mozart described both it and the more martial- sounding D major, with its trumpets and timpani, as ‘concertos which make one sweat’, while conceding that ‘the one in B-flat is more diffi cult than the one in D’. Bavouzet concurs in his performer’s note in the booklet, though his scintillating performance masks any discomfiture.

The star of the show, however, is the Quintet in E-flat, the orchestral accompaniment stripped away to oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon, a masterpiece of Classical poise and balance. Mozart himself regarded it at the time of its composition as ‘the best work I have written in my life’. If the pianist is primus inter pares, each of the wind players has their share of the sunlight and the soloists from the Manchester Camerata – oboist Rachael Clegg, clarinettist Fiona Cross, Naomi Anderson on horn and bassoonist Ben Hudson – relish every note. The full band is on fine form in the concertos, well marshalled by Gábor Takács-Nagy. Excellent sound.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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