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Journey to Mozart

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Journey to Mozart
Works by Mozart, Gluck, Haydn, Mysliveček and Salomon
Zurich Chamber Orchestra/Daniel Hope (violin)
DG 479 8376

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‘Journey to Mozart’, the latest of Daniel Hope’s theme-driven compilation albums, places at its centre Mozart’s Third Violin Concerto, K216, and his single- movement Adagio, K261. Haydn’s G major Violin Concerto is the only other complete offering: among the single movements dotted around these main items are excerpts from the Paris version of Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice (the ‘Dance of the Furies’ and a schmaltzy violin-solo adaptation of the ‘Blessed Spirits’ ballet), short concertante movements by Mysliveček and Salomon, rather purposeless in context, and a boisterous arrangement of the ‘Alla turca’ Rondo from Mozart’s K331 piano sonata as finale.

It’s both a highly personal selection and a rather puzzling one, the rationale of which – if indeed any such can be deduced from Hope’s own short written introduction and the fulsome booklet essay – seems to be to underline Mozart’s effortless artistic superiority in the chosen company. To me, although the partnership of Hope and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra (of which he is now music director) achieves uniformly vibrant and vigorous results, the full sequence emerges at once bitty, random and strangely uneven in interpretative approach.

In the Mozart Concerto, for instance, I soon found myself longing for less show-off insistence on varying tone and attack, greater simplicity of phrasing. By contrast, the account of the Haydn, a work patronised by the note-writer as old- fashioned by Mozart’s side, seems less fussy and to me, therefore, much more satisfying. Hope’s brilliance as a soloist does comes across assertively throughout this ‘Journey’, which for his many admirers will surely prove sufficient to sustain interest.

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Max Loppert