Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante, K364; Duos for violin and viola Nos 1 & 2; Violin Concerto No. 3, K216; Adagio, K261; Rondo, K373

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Sinfonia Concertante, K364; Duos for violin and viola Nos 1 & 2; Violin Concerto No. 3, K216; Adagio, K261; Rondo, K373
PERFORMER: Philippe Graffin (violin/conductor), Nobuko Imai (viola); Het Brabants Orkest
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2127
Philippe Graffin makes a good fist of directing from the violin – the Concerto is tight, and he characterises the solo part with charm and elegance. There’s a bit too much rubato in the slow movement, and his own cadenzas are rather inconsequential, but the changes of tempo in the last movement have a natural flow. And he always finds the right tone colour for a phrase, and the point of balance for his phrasing. In this he compares well with other modern recordings – though Julian Rachlin (on Warner) has the benefit of a separate conductor to keep him on the straight and narrow in the Adagio.

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More impressive are the works with viola. In the Sinfonia Concertante, after an alert, full-sounding opening tutti, Graffin and Nobuko Imai steal in perfectly for their first phrase. There’s the odd lapse in intonation and ensemble, but they are clearly listening to each other, and responding. Imai’s burnished tone is, as ever, a delight, especially at the bottom of the range. You might prefer the poise of Grumiaux and Pellicia’s classic reading (on Philips), but this runs them close in its unaffected way with the slow movement – every little touch of rubato is considered and grows naturally out of the music. The Duos make a hefty bonus on the second disc, and are performed with a flexibility that never becomes flabby. Martin Cotton