Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 1; Violin Concerto No. 2; Violin Concerto No. 3; Violin Concerto No. 4; Violin Concerto No. 5, Sinfonia concertante in E flat for violin & viola, Concertone in C for two violins

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 1; Violin Concerto No. 2; Violin Concerto No. 3; Violin Concerto No. 4; Violin Concerto No. 5, Sinfonia concertante in E flat for violin & viola, Concertone in C for two violins
PERFORMER: Shlomo Mintz, Hagai Shaham, English Chamber Orchestra, Schlomo Mintz
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2058
Even without being a devotee of

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period instruments, it would be

hard to listen to these performances

without feeling caught in a time warp.

Shlomo Mintz’s playing is rich-toned,

and though his vibrato is carefully

controlled, it’s almost always present to

some degree. His first entry in the First

Concerto, after the ECO’s expertly

blended, plushly recorded tutti, says

it all – with its warming of some notes

more than others, and the emphasis

on smoothness of line. It’s just too

comfortable, and the slow movement

sits down rather than moving

forwards. In the Second Concerto, the

dotted rhythms of the first movement

lack tension and there’s none of the

urgency that Thomas Zehetmair (also

playing with modern instruments)

conveys at a faster speed.

Going back over 40 years to

Grumiaux in the Third Concerto,

there’s a lightness of touch which

Mintz completely misses in his

leisurely amble through the first

movement, and in the Fourth the

ECO’s opening tutti, as so often,

seems undercharacterised and

directionless. It’s not simply a matter

of having no conductor – Menuhin

single-handedly brought much

more thrust to the music in 1962.

Mintz’s playing is always beautiful,

but he over-Romanticises things,

and in this he’s aided and abetted by

Hagai Shaham in the Concertone,

which can’t take it, and the Sinfonia

concertante, whose darker colours

survive better. All right if you like

Mozart as a wallow, but short on

musical nourishment. For that go

to Zehetmair in the concertos and

Gidon Kremer and Kim Kashkashian,

lean but not mean, in the Sinfonia

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concertante. Martin Cotton