LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart – Violin Concertos
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K216; Violin Concerto No. 4 in D, K218; Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, K219
PERFORMER: English Concert/Andrew Manze (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: HMU 907385
If this had appeared 20 years ago, who would have believed that it was a period instrument performance? There’s rubato, perhaps too much at the end of the first phrase of K216 which almost makes the movement stop before it’s started, and a wide tonal palette – the way that the orchestral strings, and then Manze himself, control vibrato in the Adagio of the same concerto is miraculously expressive. And yet spontaneity shines through the thoughtful preparation, especially in Manze’s cadenzas, which are perfectly judged stylistically, and where every note counts. And the different characters of each of the episodes in the rondo finales, with their changes of tempo and mood, are sharply caught. In K218 it’s striking how the music moves between elegant courtly grace and a more bucolic atmosphere, where I’ve never been reminded so strongly of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. And the so-called ‘Turkish interlude’ in K219 has an almost scary intensity in its vivid instrumental colour.
Good though earlier period performances by Simon Standage and Monica Huggett are, this raises the standard, both in excellence of performance and in the depth of the recording. A focused, clear bassline provides firm foundation for the characterful wind and the alert,
well-balanced strings. Everything comes together perfectly – for Mozart and performers – in the K219 Adagio, where the apparently simple melodic line is intensified with unexpected harmonic shifts, all delivered with complete naturalness. A wonderful contribution to Mozart Year. Martin Cotton