Sarah Willis : Mozart Mambo

Sarah Willis, Havana Lyceum Orchestra, José Padrón etc
Alpha 578

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I suspect your reaction to this CD will depend on your response to the question posed on the back of the package ‘Mozart combined with traditional Cuban music: do these two go together?’ The answer given is unsurprisingly ‘Absolutely!’ As someone who loves and plays Mozart frequently, as well as loving and playing mambo music, I would never dream of mixing to two, and I’m afraid this CD confirms my decision. We have Sarah Willis playing modern horn with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra in inoffensive performances of the K 370b movement and the K371 Rondo for Horn and Orchestra, as well as the complete K447 Concerto. We also have spirited accounts of orchestral arrangements of actual mambos, which have the usual pros and cons of such reworkings, but then we have further mambos based on Mozart melodies from Eine kleine Nachtmusik and the K447 Concerto. If this is your kind of thing, then you will undoubtedly be happy sashaying along to this – I wasn’t and I didn’t. Sometimes such genre-blurring can be a revelation, but I fear this CD seems a bit of an indulgence. I was left wondering who is going to buy it. Fans of Mozart’s horn music can easily find more convincing and thought-provoking performances, while serious mambists are surely going to feel the performances here rather tame.

D. James Ross

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