MOZART Oboe Quartet; BRITTEN Phantasy Quartet
Distinguished soloists do not always make distinguished chamber musicians. Here they do; and unsuspected depths in the music are plumbed. A measure of daring seems implicit in their control of fine pianissimi and tonal half-lights at the beginning of Britten’s Phantasy Quartet. The initial notes marked to be played on the fingerboard of a muted cello emanate from an inky nothingness, to be gradually joined by the viola and violin playing in a similar fashion. And there is no rude awakening from oboist François Leleux; his softly reedy tone steals in to reinforce the delicate texture.
This is no flash in the pan. Technique, both individual and corporate, is consummate, a vehicle for a penetrating intelligence that reaches beyond the limitations of musical notation. Leleux avoids a narrow dynamic range and blunt attack, instead producing within the scope of his instrument a ductile expressiveness of the sort that is usually heard from strings. The interpretation of Mozart’s Oboe Quartet is sure to meet the expectations of many a dream, as will the C minor Adagio where an eloquent case is made for a piece not often heard. Ditto Dohnányi’s Trio, Lisa Batiashvili as unobtrusively cogent a leader here as she is the duo partner in the arias from Die Zauberflöte.
The only snag to this programme, recorded with the right degree of reverberation, is that a hotch-potch of composers creates a headache for the collector. Where to file this disc? How about a section simply called “Bewitching Performances”?