Mozart: Serenades in D, K203 & K204; Kontretänze, K101

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Serenades in D, K203 & K204; Kontretänze, K101
PERFORMER: Tero Latvala (violin); Tapiola Sinfonietta/Jean-Jacques Kantorow
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1100
In the tradition of Salzburg Finalmusik – music to accompany the end-of-year university junketings – both these serenades enfold a miniature violin concerto within a breezy, italianate symphony – two works for the price of one, if you like. There are predictable stretches of routine D major bustle here. But the teenage Mozart is always likely to surprise you with something special.

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Amid so much Mozartian recorded overkill, versions of these particular serenades are surprisingly thin on the ground. To date the field has been led by the typically urbane performances from Marriner and the ASMF on Philips, with Iona Brown a refined, silken-toned soloist. I still prefer the Academy in some of the slow movements, especially the G major Andante in K203, where the Tapiola sounds a shade deliberate and the rustling viola figuration is too loud. But in the fast movements and minuets the Finns often score over their sleeker British rivals with bolder contrasts, crisper, more varied articulation and a higher adrenalin factor. In the ‘violin concerto’ Allegro in K203, for instance, the brio and fizz of Tero Latvala (an excellent soloist throughout) and the orchestra make Iona Brown and the ASMF sound sober by comparison. The 80-minute CD limit meant that there was no room for the marches that should preface the serenades, though BIS uses almost every second of available time by throwing in four brief contredanses (two of which, incidentally, may be by Leopold Mozart) composed for the 1776 Salzburg Carnival. Richard Wigmore