Mozart: Violin Concertos Nos 1-4

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Violin Concertos No. 1 in B flat, K207; No. 2 in D, K211; No. 4 in D, K218; Adagio in E, K261; Rondo in C, K373
PERFORMER: Australian Chamber Orchestra/Richard Tognetti (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-SACD-1755 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Richard Tognetti and the admirable Australian Chamber Orchestra aim at a synthesis between ‘authentic’ and modern performance styles of Mozart. They use gut strings and play at a pitch that’s lower than our present-day standard, but at the same time not fighting shy of vibrato. Above all, these are interpretations that take their point of departure from the music itself, more than from theories of what it might – or might not – have sounded like in Mozart’s day. The finest work here is the D major Concerto K218, whose finale, like those of the more famous Violin Concertos in A and G, introduces episodes in contrasting tempos and metres.

It is very adroitly handled by Tognetti and his players. I particularly like the way they allow themselves a hint of an accelerando in the final moments, as the music builds up over an insistent repeated bass note, followed by a winding down as it fades into the distance.

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Of the two individual movements included here, the beautiful Adagio K261, scored with flutes and muted strings, was composed for the Salzburg court violinist Antonio Brunetti as a substitute slow movement for the A major Concerto K219, after he complained that the original was ‘too artificial’. The performances are all first-rate, and anyone who already has Tognetti’s first Mozart instalment will want this one. The booklet is silent on the question of the short and stylish cadenzas, though they are presumably by Tognetti himself. Misha Donat