Alexei Utkin, Hermitage Chamber Orchestra – Mozart: Oboenspitze, vol.2 (2008) DSF DSD64

Alexei Utkin, Hermitage Chamber Orchestra – Mozart: Oboenspitze, vol.2 (2008)
DSF 5.0 Surround DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 54:18 minutes | 5,37 GB
DSF Stereo DSD64, 1 bit/2,82 MHz | Time – 54:18 minutes | 2,15GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Booklet, Front Cover | © Essential Music/Caro Mitis

In the mid-18th century a composition bearing the name Sinfonia concertante captivated audiences at large public concerts in Paris, London and Mannheim. In many ways akin to a solo concerto, symphonies with the participation of a group of solo instruments were seen primarily as an alternative to the usual orchestral symphony – somewhat lighter in content, but far more virtuoso and showy by nature. The powerful, stirring sound of the orchestra (in which an important role was played by developed parts for wind instruments) was combined with sections that allowed the best European performers to demonstrate their mastery.

As things turned out, the wider public is familiar with only a few examples among many hundreds of 18th-century concertante symphonies. By a certain irony of fate, sometimes even the names of composers who were famous in their day for writing dozens of such symphonies have been practically forgotten, whereas Mozart’s sole surviving opus in this genre, the Sinfonia concertante in E flat major for violin and viola (KV 364), is traditionally an integral part of the classical repertoire. It sufficed for Mozart to make just one episodic application of the sinfonia concertante genre in order to eclipse his colleagues’ legacy for several centuries, although admittedly this work occupies an important place among his compositions.

Russian oboist Alexei Utkin has released a series of recordings on the audiophile Caro Mitis label (if you can chew gum and speak Latin at the same time, that would be “juicy fruit”). He bills his Hermitage Chamber Orchestra as the world’s only orchestral ensemble led by an oboist, and some of the albums have been designed to spotlight his exceptional oboe skills. This disc has a different idea. Utkin has performed a variety of Classical and Baroque repertoire, transcribing pieces as needed, and here he reworks a pair of well-known Mozart works for chamber ensembles including oboe. The work designated as the Quintet No. 2 in C minor, K. 406, played here by oboe, violin, two violas, and cello is actually a transcription of a transcription. The original work is the Serenade for winds in C minor, K. 388, which Mozart transcribed for string quintet in 1788. Utkin replaces one of the violins with his own oboe. He turns out to be as gifted a chamber player as he is a soloist, but this diminshes the grim concentration of this remarkable work, whose intensity is partly a product of its homogenity of texture. The situation is a bit better with the Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for violin, viola, and orchestra, K. 364, here rewritten by Utkin for flute (on the violin part), oboe, and orchestra. This works quite a bit better than you might expect: the timbral difference between violin and viola is large, and Utkin is able to pull off tricks that replicate the contrasts in the original work. The long-note entrance of the two solo instruments, pregnant with suspense to the point of mystery, is beautifully handled here. This transription, unlike the one of K. 388/406, would have been perfectly comprehensible to an audience of the late eighteenth century. The sound lives up to its audiophile billing, and this may well be a performance that wind players and their admirers will enjoy.–James Manheim “AllMusic”


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Quintet No.2 in C minor (KV 406/516b). Originally for strings
1 Allegro
2 Andante
3 Menuetto in canone. Trio in canone al rovescio
4 Allegro
Sinfonia concertante in E flat major for violin, viola and orchestra (KV 364)
Transcription for flute, oboe and orchestra by Alexei Utkin (2006)
5 Allegro maestoso
6 Andante
7 Presto

Alexei Utkin (oboe)
Pyotr Nikiforov (violin)
Zoya Nevolina (viola)
Lidiya Fimina (viola)
Ekaterina Dossina (cello)
Maria Chepurina (flute)
Hermitage Orchestra
Andante in B-flat major for Oboe and Orchestra (5) and Concerto in C major for Oboe and Orchestra (6-8)
Alexei Utkin (oboe)
Hermitage Orchestra

Recorded: 8,10-12.10.2006 5th Studio of The Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (RTR) Moscow, Russia

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