Mozart’s Violin Concertos Nos 2 & 5 & Sinfonia Concertante Performed by Frank Peter Zimmermann

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Hänssler Classic
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 2 & 5; Sinfonia Concertante
PERFORMER: Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin), Antoine Tamestit (viola); Chamber Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Radoslaw Szulc
CATALOGUE NO: HC 15042  

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Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante is the greatest of all his string concertos, and, together with the Jeunehomme Piano Concerto, the richest orchestral score from his Salzburg years. From the moment the violin and viola soloists enter imperceptibly before the orchestral introduction has run its full course, gradually emerging into the foreground, the piece is a miracle of inventiveness and beauty. As in the Jeunehomme Concerto, the slow movement is an aria – or in this case, duet – that seems to have stepped straight out of a tragic opera, while the finale bubbles over with energy. Current musicological opinion favours a crisp ‘double-dotted’ rhythm for the E flat chords which begin the Sinfonia Concertante, rather than the more stately form in which Mozart actually notated them; Radoslaw Szulc takes the fashionable view – not necessarily an improvement over the traditional interpretation. But it’s a small point, and the performance as a whole, with Frank Peter Zimmerman and Antoine Tamestit as the eloquent soloists, is immensely enjoyable.

Also among the marvels of Mozart’s younger years is the series of violin concertos he completed by the time he was 19. Zimmermann again gives beautifully refined performances, with tasteful cadenzas and lead-ins. Szulc and the orchestra provide appropriately stamping rhythms in the famous ‘Turkish’ episode of the A major Concerto’s finale, with the cellos and basses slapping their instruments with the back of the bow, and the use of a solo string quartet in the reprise of the rondo theme after that is a nice touch.

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Misha Donat