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Mozart: Violin Concertos Nos 3 & 5; Symphony No. 29

Sebastian Bohren (violin); CHAARTS Chamber Artists/Gábor Takács-Nagy (Avie)

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Violin Concertos Nos 3 & 5; Symphony No. 29
Sebastian Bohren (violin); CHAARTS Chamber Artists/Gábor Takács-Nagy
Avie AV 2459   73:24 mins

The booklet note tells us that this programme was originally recorded in the pre-pandemic year of 2018. Sebastian Bohren then decided that his own contribution still wasn’t as good as it could be, and insisted on re-recording both concertos with the same artistic team – which wasn’t possible until mid-2020, when the need for social distancing presented a fresh challenge. It is much to this orchestra’s credit that only fractional technical differences, if any, can be spotted between the various sessions. Ensemble is full-toned and super-precise at every point, with lovely attention paid to the part-writing in the Symphony’s first movement especially. Some of the accentuation here is over-punchy, but not enough to be troubling, and the total result brims with that special kind of music-making joy and fun that’s a Mozart trademark.

Bohren’s gorgeous solo playing chimes in with these qualities. The sound that this young Swiss draws from his Guadagnini violin is full, handsome, in no way turbocharged and vividly alert to the music’s every shift and turn. Performances of these early-ish works often come across as bland, making you wish that Mozart had returned to the genre at the height of his powers; here, on the contrary, both concertos sound like the vibrant masterworks they already are. An eyebrow can be raised (no more than that) regarding Bohren’s cadenzas which, while not stylistically jarring, perhaps tend to go on a shade too long – an exception being in the Adagio second movement of K219, which sounds just right.

Malcolm Hayes