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MOZART, W.A.: Flute Quartets Nos. 1-4 (Petri)

MOZART, W.A.: Flute Quartets Nos. 1-4 (Petri)

The Classical Shop
release date: February 2013

Originally recorded in 2008


Marta Sudraba


Michala Petri


Carolin Widmann


Ula Ulijona



Baltic Recording, Isle of Bornholm, Denmark

Record Label
Our Recordings




Total Time - 54:01
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MOZART, W.A.: Flute Quartets Nos. 1-4 (Petri)

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Flute Quartet No. 1 in D major, K. 285

1 I. Allegro 4:41
 Ula Ulijona Soloist
2 II. Adagio 2:31
 Marta Sudraba Soloist
3 III. Rondo 4:35
 Ula Ulijona Soloist

Flute Quartet No. 2 in G major, K. 285a

4 I. Andante 8:30
 Carolin Widmann Soloist
5 II. Tempo di menuetto 2:58
 Carolin Widmann Soloist

Flute Quartet No. 3 in C major, K. Anh. 171/285b

6 I. Allegro 8:42
 Carolin Widmann Soloist
7 II. Theme and Variations 9:30
 Carolin Widmann Soloist

Flute Quartet No. 4 in A major, K. 298

8 I. Theme and Variations: Andante 7:09
 Ula Ulijona Soloist
9 II. Menuetto 2:21
 Michala Petri Soloist
10 III. Rondo: Allegretto grazioso 3:04
 Michala Petri Soloist

By the end of the eighteenth century the transverse flute had gained the same popularity among amateur musicians as the guitar would 200 years later. A flute was easy to transport, it was inexpensive to buy and relatively easy to play. When Mozart wrote his first flute works in the 1760s, the flute was mainly used as a solo or chamber music instrument. When he wrote his last music in 1791, it had become a permanent member of the modern symphony orchestra. The classical transverse flute had also completely ousted the old recorders as an amateur instrument. Eighteenth-century students, officers, intellectuals, aristocrats, royalty and professional virtuosi now played the transverse flute, and the composers therefore supplied them with modern chamber music works at all levels of difficulty. The music publishers sold reams of flute music. Many of the works can be found preserved in private and public libraries all over Europe. 
The great age of the recorder was coming to an end in the middle of the 1700s. It had seen a last flourishing with Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann, but after that it was very quickly outstripped by the more flexible modern transverse flutes, which better suited the aesthetic of Classical music. Yet the recorder family was not completely forgotten in Mozart’s time. One of the finest portraits of a recorder player was painted in Budapest in 1778, the year Mozart composed his first two flute quartets. The last recorder tutor of the Classical period appeared in London in 1780, the year before Mozart wrote his third quartet. 
The leap from a recorder to a transverse flute of the eighteenth century was considerable, but not huge. Mozart would have composed his quartets for a soft-sounding, slender flute of wood, with just two keys – a sound much closer to that of a recorder than that of today’s powerful orchestral flute of silver. In the 1700s, instrumentation was not taken as seriously as today. At lightening speed Mozart himself arranged his opera The Abduction from the Seraglio for wind octet – quite simply because he could sell the music and earn money! We do not know what Mozart would have replied if we had asked him for permission to perform his flute quartets on the recorder. But since he was always aware of the mundane necessities of the marketplace, a likely answer would have been: “What’s my percentage?” 
Michala Petri made her debut as a concert soloist in 1969 at the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen. Since then she has toured every continent and has appeared in concerts and festivals all over the world. Her mastery of her instruments – as well as the musicality she communicates – have been devoted to works ranging from the Baroque to the contemporary; many composers have dedicated works to Michala Petri and have written specifically for her. 
It has been Michala’s goal to challenge the common perceptions and expand the musical limits of the recorder in every way possible – whether through historically-informed performances of period repertoire, creative and idiomatic arrangements of works originally written for other instruments or creating a new literature from our own time. It will come as no surprise that her performances of the Mozart Flute Quartets (performed on a trio of the best modern recorders*), accompanied by three gifted soloists from Germany, Lithuania and Latvia provide a listening experience of the highest artistic standards. What is more important is that these new recordings are incredibly beautiful and entertaining as well! 

 "Mozart’s Flute Quartets played on recorders? Unusual but not improbable; and Michala Petri, who uses recorders in three different pitches, is likely to disarm resistance or hostility. She chooses a sopranino instrument for K298. But no shrill piping, no phlegmatic phrasing. The first movement is a theme and four variations, the overall marking Andantino implying a single tempo. But as Mozart offers each musician an individual role in each of the four variations, Petri treats the components as separate facets of a single entity. She relaxes or tightens the pace as necessary without compromising unity; and no one hogs the limelight. These artists know when to blend, separate or step forward without upstaging one another. The return to the theme at the end, not in the score and therefore "unauthorized" is, nevertheless, a thoughtful interpretative touch. The sound on this disc (in SACD) is alluringly recorded..." 

Nalen Anthoni - Gramophone magazine - November 2008

"Can anyone believe that Michala Petri is now 50 years old? Time is certainly beginning to pass me by more rapidly than I’d like to admit, but I was taken aback when reminded that she made her debut all the way back in 1969, and the career ever since has certainly approached legendary status. Her playing doesn’t seem to have suffered much either, judging by this new SACD of stunning Mozartian revelry and extraordinarily rich surround sound. But why the recorder? I supposed one could be flippant and answer, “Because she is Michala Petri and wants to do it.” But even as the notes to this deluxe release admit, the recorder was well on its way out the door when these quartets were written, and the transverse flute had already replaced the instrument as the primary home wind instrument, fairly easy to play and featuring a more luxurious and subtle sound than the more piecing recorder. But, using the model that Mozart himself was a practical man and would have approved playing the pieces on recorder if there were a Thaler involved, we now have this very interesting and well-played (if not really definitive, only because of instrumentation) release. It is not probable that these works were written either for commission or for initial publication, but for Mozart’s friends and colleagues. But the question remains as to the choice of solo instrument here. I must say that Petri does her dead level best not to remind us that this is a recorder by playing with a softer sound and using a variety of instruments. Nonetheless, for those who know the works well it will come as a slight shock to hear them played this way, though by the end you will have long forgotten about it and been completely swayed by the stunning musicianship and excellent rapport among these sterling colleagues... —this is a remarkable and enchanting disc of exceptional attributes." 
Steven E Ritter - Fanfare - October 2008

"Not Mozart’s favourite instrument nor are these my favourite Mozart works - they are given loving performances which make convincing the use of recorders, rather than the more usual modern flute in many of the recordings available. Michala Petri rings the changes with several instruments and finishes K285b on sopranino, which I doubt she would claim as in any way authentic, but no matter, it makes for an effective finish. I have a personal interest in this release because, in long since student days when I used to play the recorder, I deplored the lack of any Mozart solo music for my instrument. So I transcribed the (inauthentic) solo part of the "violin sonata K.570" [Peters Edn] to create a Mozart sonata for treble recorder, which was belatedly published by Peacock Press in time for the Mozart 250 celebrations year; it is available from Recorder Music Mail. **
The disc is a high quality SACD recording (if you have the equipment to appreciate its niceities*) but the music sounds fine on a variety of ordinary players. It should inspire recorder players to bring the quartets into their chamber music repertoires." 
Peter Grahame Woolf - Musical Pointers - August 2008

“A Winner – FIVE STARS!” 
"The four smiling women on the cover of this new edition of Mozart’s flute quartets have much to be happy about. They’ve compiled a winner. For a start, search and discover these wondrous samples of their craft from K285 alone: in the Allegro, there’s a graceful diminuendo at the conclusion of first theme’s opening statement; at the conclusion of the Adagio two tantalizingly long rests; then there is the keen attention the ensemble gives to subtle shadings between repeats; and of course the pure hardwood tones of the recorders . . .what? Recorders?  That’s right. Michala Petri plays these four sublime “flute” quartets on a variety of recorders: alto, soprano, even the birdlike sopranino. The first two may have originally been played on such instruments. However, this unorthodox programming choice works gloriously for all four pieces. She may dazzle us, but never do we get the impression that she’s showing off her virtuosity (of which there is plenty). She is merely revealing this music in its best light. In fact, these quartets just happen to sound better than when played by most modern flute players. The sonics of this SACD seem perfectly balanced, with tones warmer than a comforter in March. The three string players are extraordinary: their instruments complement the recorders the way balsamic vinegar does virgin olive oil. These performances are not only smooth, they are entertaining. The Tema con variazioni of K285b recalls affective moments from Mozart’s serenades: its poignant opening melody is seasoned with tasty triplets half way through. (Catch Petri’s deft witty switch to sopranino at the conclusion.) There are many such high points on this CD. You will have to pick out the best for yourself, so listen close. This is music that may inspire you to curl up next to a fire, cat, or lover and forget the world’s colossal disarray. 
*Michala Petri performs on the Mollenhauer Modern Alto recorder and the Moeck Rottenburgh Soprano and Sopranino recorders
Peter Bates - - August 2008

                Artistic Quality 10     Sound Quality 10
"Petri’s playing-accompanied by a very capable string trio with the rapport and ensemble awareness of seasoned chamber musicians (listen to the delicate phrasing in the Menuetto of K. 285a)-allows her lines their "solo" character while achieving a more gratifying integration with the strings than is possible with the modern flute’s more assertive, metallic voice. The warm, ebony-timbre of the three different recorders Petri uses (alto, soprano, and sopranino) actually has a closer affinity to the quality of the stringed instruments, and thus to the flute of Mozart’s day. Although even in the hands of a master like Petri the recorder’s intonation challenges can’t be absolutely solved, the few slightly under-pitch moments are just that-momentary-and will be unnoticed by all but the most keen-eared, attentive listeners.Petri’s impressive technical command of these instruments-supported by gorgeous, natural, ideally balanced sonics-allows her complete musical/expressive freedom, and in pieces that are not among Mozart’s most notably sophisticated creations, she and her responsive partners make music that’s both eloquent and entertaining--just what Mozart would have wanted. Highly recommended!"
David Vernier - - June 2008

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