“Led with flair and imagination by Michael Collins, London Winds give a vital, refined performanceof the Gran Partita, exceptionally transparent in texture and full of felicitous detail: the wonderfully veiled pianissimo coda of the Romanze fifth movement, for instance; or the eloquently phrased oboe cantilena against the dulcet murmurings of clarinets and basset horns in the adagio variation.
Outer movements are crisp and athletic, with an easy, quick-witted sense of instrumental interplay; and the two minuets are sharply contrasted, the first done as a stately menuetto galante, its G minor Trio more elegiac than agitated, the second as a perky Ländler. Some may raise an eyebrow at the use of contrabassoon instead of Mozart's prescribed double bass (contrabassoons had notoriously unreliable plumbing in the 1780s). But there are gains in overall blend, even if you might miss the double bass's pizzicato twangs in the second minuet's beery Trio. The only reservation comes with the Adagio third movement, the work's emotional core, where the pulsing accompaniment impinges too prominently on the soaring exchanges of oboe, clarinet and basset horn.
As a fill-up London Winds offer that most undiverting of serenades, K388, in a fine performance, amply powerful and urgent but notable for its poetry and inwardness, whether in the sorrowful, syncopated variant of the 'second subject' in the opening Allegro's recapitulation, or the Trio's exquisite 'mirror canon', celestially floated here by oboes and bassoons.”