Mozart (3 Disc Review)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart; Vieuxtemps
LABELS: Avie; Hänssler; DG


Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5, ; Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto No. 4
Hilary Hahn (violin); Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Paavo Järvi
DG 479 3956   59:38 mins

Violin Concertos Nos 1, 3 & 4; Adagio in E, K261; Rondo in C, K373
Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin); Chamber Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio Symphony/Radoslaw Szulc
Hänssler Classic 98.039   76:47 mins

Violin Concertos Nos 1-5; Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola
Rachel Barton Pine (violin), Matthew Lipman (viola); Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner
Avie AV 2317   146:59 mins (2 discs)

Rachel Barton Pine’s set of Mozart Violin Concertos opens with No. 4: an expertly controlled tutti from Neville Marriner sets the stage for the solo entry, but almost immediately there’s a feeling of rushing. Luckily it’s an anomaly in an otherwise well-paced series of performances, although sometimes there’s a feeling of phrasing being snatched at speed. Barton Pine’s tone is warm, but I could wish for more variety of timbre and flexibility of pulse: the changes of tonality and mood in the first movement of the Fifth Concerto are somewhat skated over, and she’s generally more successful in the contrasting episodes of the final rondos. In all five concertos she plays her own cadenzas, which are well tailored, and don’t outstay their welcome. In the Sinfonia Concertante, the soloists are well matched, but could shape the central Andante with greater affection.

Frank Peter Zimmermann’s CD is well recorded and sometimes historically informed in its orchestral textures. Zimmermann himself is more traditional in approach, vibrato and tonal weight in particular, which gives his solo role an element of contrast, but rarely jars: his first, upfront entry in the Fourth Concerto is a bit of a shock. The lead-backs between the sections of the Rondo and its throwaway ending are beautifully judged though. And he always gives the music detail and direction, though the slow movements are more cushioned, and the faster ones don’t have quite the necessary zing. The First movement of Concerto No. 3 takes a while to settle, but the Adagio,with its lapping triplet accompaniment is beautifully poised, even if Zimmermann’s vibrato is on the fast side.

Hilary Hahn takes a Romantic view of Mozart, with bold gestures, a wide dynamic range, and fruity vibrato, especially lower down the instrument. In the Adagio, this tends to work against the sparer textures that Paavo Järvi encourages from the orchestra, and her smooth phrasing of the main Rondo theme is at odds with the following tutti. But this movement otherwise finds her at her best, with the contrast in the Turkish episode not too over-emphasised. She is more naturally attuned to the Vieuxtemps, where she can pull out the emotional stops, especially in the slow movement and the cadenzas.


Martin Cotton