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Felix Klieser & Zemlinsky Quartet — Mozart & Haydn (Berlin Classics, 2022)

Felix Klieser & Zemlinsky Quartet — Mozart & Haydn (Berlin Classics, 2022)

A soloist’s career path can often be a lonely one, especially for an exceptional instrumental soloist like Felix Klieser. It is then all the more inspiring when over the course of many years playing together, there is the opportunity to build and nurture close artistic and personal contacts with other musicians. Felix Klieser’s concerts with the Prague-based Zemlinsky Quartet therefore are understandably among his annual favourites, as they present an opportunity for the five musicians to come together and to show that many years of music-making together has forged them into much more than just another artistic ensemble. “I have played so much and so often with the Zemlinsky Quartet, and so we wanted to record a programme of music together,” he explains. What could be more suitable for such a project than Mozart and Haydn?

“The Horn Quintet is a real favourite of mine, in fact it may be the piece I like to play most,” is the hornist’s reaction to Mozart’s chamber works for the instrument. He has amply proved that he is very fond indeed of Mozart, having already recorded the Horn Concertos of Wolfgang Amadeus. Now comes the Quintet. “It is such great fun to play this music. It’s like being a child in a sweet shop who is told: ‘you’re allowed to pick up anything and you can eat as much as you like.’ You go tumbling from one mood into another, interchanging between unbounded jubilation and deepest despair in the space of two bars; you really have to be on your toes — it’s intensive stuff.”

Felix Klieser and the Zemlinsky Quartet have paired Mozart’s Horn Quintet with the two horn concertos by Joseph Haydn. “My mindset has changed; compared with how I used to play these concertos, I am a different person today,” Felix Klieser explains with regard to the Haydn horn concertos, which he has already recorded with the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra. Arranged for solo horn and string quartet, the chamber-music version brings out the interaction as “much more spontaneous, more personal, more delicate”. He goes on: “the fact that each part is played by a single instrument means that it has its own sanctuary, its own significance.” The differentiation only becomes evident in the transparent sound and the close coordination between the musicians. “Nowadays I tend to play with more verve and more impulsively, something I wouldn’t have dared to do a few years ago.”

As with his previous album Beyond Words, featuring arrangements of Baroque arias, this new album again includes a number of transcriptions. The four Mozart arias from The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute are a welcome addition to the horn repertoire. At the same time, Felix Klieser is a big fan of such adaptions: “I love playing arias, because the phrasing, the breath technique and the horn’s ability to carry the song part are all identical. The articulation and timbres are of course different, and one mustn’t attempt to copy the original. But the basic idea of this music functions perfectly because the basic criteria for the interpretation is the same.”

Artists: Felix Klieser, Zelimsky Quartet

Composers: Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Release date: April 1st, 2022

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Label: Berlin Classics

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All the contents of the 16 magazines that make up Classical Performer are indexed as International Journal of Music - ISSN: 2792-8349

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