Mozart’s Violin Concertos Nos 3, 4 & 5 Performed by Henning Kraggerud

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 3, 4 & 5
PERFORMER: Henning Kraggerud (violin); Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573513  

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The opening of Concerto No. 3 races off like a greyhound out of the traps, although the momentum later is inconsistent, which dissipates the music’s energy. And although there’s poise in Henning Kraggerud’s phrasing, the feeling of being on the edge makes for an uneasy ride at times. It’s a pity, as the orchestral textures are lightly and cleanly delineated, and the recorded sound has enough reverberation to give warmth without compromising clarity. This tendency to adopt fast speeds, and then not quite maintain them, surfaces in several places: most of the final Rondeau in this concerto has the same characteristics, but the slower episode is nicely paced.

In the Fourth Concerto, there’s a lovely singing character to the central Andante, Kraggerud producing a variety of tone which matches the changing intensity of the line. Here, as in all the concertos, he plays his own cadenzas, which are stylish in the best sense, and show off his technique, but don’t outstay their welcome. Again, the final movement is too rapid in the Andante sections to make a really telling contrast with the alternating Allegros.

Most successful is the Fifth Concerto, where the internal contrasts of tempo in the outer movements do convince, and the urgency of the ‘Turkish’ interlude in the Rondeau is nicely integrated into the overall plan. This, after some affectionate give and take of rubato in the Adagio, makes me wish that the earlier concertos had been less hastily despatched.

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Martin Cotton