Peyer/Melos Ens: Mozart Clarinet Quintet + "Kegelstatt" Trio - Electrola SME 91716 (w/g)
Jacket VG / LP VG / German pressing
This lovely LP from Electrola (SME 91716, German pressing, white/gold label, stereo) features two sublime Mozart performances, both with the great clarinetist Gervase de Peyer front and center, yet first among equals with the members of the equally remarkable Melos Ensemble.
Included are the following works:
Mozart's Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano in E-flat Major K. 498 'Kegelstatt-Trio', with Gervase de Peyer (clarinet), Cecil Aronowitz (viola), and Lamar Crowson (piano)
> rec. at EMI Studio No. 1, Abbey Road, London on 27 December 1963
Mozart's Trio for Clarinet and String Quartet, with Gervase de Peyer (clarinet), Emanuel Hurwitz (violin), Ivor McMahon (violin), Cecil Aronowitz (viola), and Terence Weil (cello)
> rec. at EMI Studio No. 1, Abbey Road, London on 20 and 24 January 1964
Both readings can withstand the most exalted comparisons and both could serve as reference versions, so refined and insightful is the playing. Moreover, the sound is of EMI's finest analog quality – a wonderful LP.
Wrote the critic M.M. in his September 1964 review for The Gramophone: “This performance of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet is one of the most beautiful I have ever heard. De Peyer gives a most stylish reading of the clarinet part, splendidly supported by the strings. It is a performance entirely free from describable curiosities; instead every passage sounds exactly natural and right. It always should sound like this, of course; but so often the highly desirable result, even when within reach, is yet put beyond achievement by an artist's insistent projection of some eccentricity or other.
“The music, while not sounding hurried, is not allowed to drag, either; and this, coupled with the cutting of a very few repeats, allows the quintet to be complete on one side of the disc. The missing repeats are in any event those which most gramophone listeners, looking forward to a repetition of the whole performance, will surely feel—I certainly do myself—can most readily be discarded.
“The spare side thus made available is filled with a very satisfying performance of the Mozart Clarinet Trio. This is a difficult work to bring off: the three instruments (clarinet, viola, and piano) seem to circulate pretty continuously round the middle of things as far as pitch is concerned, and the three movements (Andante, Menuetto, and Allegretto) do the same thing as far as tempo is concerned. Yet the resulting gentleness can be brought out well by a sympathetic performance, and that is certainly on offer here. Perhaps the opening movement is arguably a bit too slow; but if so it does at least have the effect of allowing time to fit in that recurring and awkwardly quick opening figure. And as Mozart wrote the figure out in full it would seem a reasonable deduction that the right speed for the movement is one that allows the figure easy speech. Unless, of course, Mozart made a mistake; but even to suggest the possibility of this is today a heresy of the first order.
“The two splendid performances on this disc are matched by an equally good and satisfyingly smooth quality of recording, with the stereo version perhaps sounding very slightly more forward and alive than the mono. Both records, however, are without doubt treasurable ones, warranting the very strongest recommendation in the fields concerned.”
Incidentally, the fine liner notes on the back side of the jacket, provided in German and English, are by Jürgen Dohm.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is VERY GOOD. There is minor bumping/wear at corners, as well as slight creasing, and a former dealer’s sticker to the rear panel, but that is all. There are no seamsplits, bends, or owners' markings and the whole remains solid, bright, glossy, and very attractive in appearance – overall, a superb collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is VERY GOOD. Although the surfaces are not CD silent – there is occasional light surface noise – in general the playback is quite fine. If you need a flawless or near-MINT copy, then you are advised to look elsewhere – overall, this is a very good collector's copy.