Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3 K216; Violin Concerto No. 5 K219; Rondo in C K373; Adagio in E K261

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 3 K216; Violin Concerto No. 5 K219; Rondo in C K373; Adagio in E K261
PERFORMER: Joshua Bell (violin); ECO/Peter Maag
CATALOGUE NO: 436 376-2 DDD
Among all the marketing-led violin talents to emerge (or to be pushed) in recent years, that of the 25-year-old Joshua Bell is at least worth all the hype. His playing in the third and fifth concertos, here coupled with two shorter works, is both arresting and sweet-toned. The sound he produces from his 1732 Stradivarius is warm and rounded, not so thin as to sound wiry, nor so overblown as to be out of keeping with Mozartian style. His playing brings out Mozart’s preference for beauty of line over virtuosity, with a cantilena that soars above the orchestra like a Mozartian soprano. It does leave behind a feeling of something too sugary and pure, making one yearn for a bit more earthiness (the rather tame ‘Turkish’ section in K219’s finale is a case in point). Bell is alert to the structural workings of the concertos and provides his own idiomatic cadenzas. Maag and the ECO give a supportive accompaniment, though lacking the last ounce of energy in the tuttis. The recording is natural and generous to the soloist. Matthew Rye

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