MOZART Concerto for Flute and Harp. Flute Concerto No 1
‘Of course Mozart loved the flute!’ declares Philippe Bernold in his booklet-notes, tackling head-on a tired and frustrated Mozart’s notorious grumble about being unable to bear the task of writing the works collected here. He needn’t have worried. This whole disc comes across as a project born of love; no small achievement in such familiar music.
Bernold directs the orchestra himself, and they respond brightly – the famous Parisian premier coup d’archet that Mozart remarked upon is clearly alive and well. Playing on modern instruments (albeit with valveless horns), rhythms are springy, vibrato is sparingly used and the tuttis are deftly and gracefully characterised. Listen to their dandyish strut in the finale of K299 and the dance-like lilt they give to the whole of the Andante, K315.
Bernold matches them for charm, and his tone has a beguiling sweetness: velvet over – well, something warmer and more flexible than steel. Silver, perhaps. His partner in K299, the harpist Emmanuel Ceysson, doesn’t assert himself quite as vividly as, say, Letizia Belmondo for Claudio Abbado, but the pair do sound like a genuine chamber partnership, with some delightful little moments of fantasy (try the mini-cadenza near the end of the Andantino).
The same qualities make for an engagingly intimate K313, with Bernold supplying his own languorous cadenza in the Adagio. It’s only a pity that the D major Concerto K314 couldn’t be included too. There’s room for it, and for collectors its absence will count against an otherwise very enjoyable recording.