Mozart: Serenades K 239 & 525, Divertimento K 287 / Les Folies Françoises

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MOZART Serenades: in D, K 239, “Serenata notturna”; in G, K 525, “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.” Divertimento in B, K 287 Patrick Cohën-Akenine (vn), cond; Les Folies Francaises ALPHA 092 (71:10)

Les Folies Francaises is a group of 18 musicians here led by violinist Patrick Cohën-Akenine in three occasional works, two very famous, and one relatively neglected. Perhaps neglected is not the ideal word for the Divertimento in B, yet it has received infinitely fewer recordings than the “Serenata notturna” and the ever-popular “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.” I have all three in lovely recordings by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, several in distinguished recordings by Colin Davis, Eugen Jochum, and there are more modern recordings, equally charming, by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In fact, the choices are vast.

Les Folies Francaises offers early-music balances and transparency. The timpani are prominent in the opening march of the “Serenata notturna,” which was recorded in a resonant space that lets the drum sound unfold. The engineers were also alert to the conversational quality of this Serenade and of the other two pieces. We hear the solos strings separated, though not excessively, from the larger group in a way I find effective and even illuminating. The echo effects, or something like them, in “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” are especially well done. The performances are perky, clear, dance-like, and meant to charm rather than overwhelm. I never yearn for a larger group, or a more imposing sound. Without knowing for sure, one begins to believe that this was the way Mozart intended these pieces to be played.

FANFARE: Michael Ullman

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: ALPHA092

  • UPC: 3760014190926

  • Label: Alpha

  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Conductor: Patrick Cohën-Akenine

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Folies Françoises