In July this year, socially distanced in Saffron Hall, Essex, top wind players gathered to record an exceptional account of Mozart’s Serenade No 10, K361, ‘Gran Partita’, with the world premiere recording of Geysir (2013), by Mark Simpson (Orchid Classics). Simpson (born 1988), also a virtuoso clarinettist, has scored Geysir for the same forces as Mozart’s masterpiece: pairs of oboes, clarinets, basset horns and bassoons; four horns and double bass. In a single movement, this short, persuasive work builds on two musical ideas from the ‘Gran Partita’, bubbling and boiling towards a climactic eruption, before subsiding back to where it began. It works as an ideal companion piece.

This ad hoc group’s Mozart playingis buoyant, nimble, expansive, elegant, witty and muscular: hardly surprising with a lineup that includes Nicholas Daniel (oboe), Amy Harman (bassoon), Ben Goldschneider (horn) and Simpson himself on clarinet. Each detail, accent or ornament, is precise and purposeful. It’s gone straight on to my best albums of the year list.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 14 November 2020

Classical home listening: two Labyrinths, one Gran Partita and a Requiem |  Music | The Guardian

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