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Terje Tønnesen and the Camerata Nordica perform Mozart

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Mozart
Adagio and Fugue in C minor; Serenade in G; Serenade in D; Divertimentos in D, B flat & F
Camerata Nordica/Terje Tønnesen
BIS Records BIS-2326

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Camerata Nordica is a Swedish 15-20-player string orchestra directed by lead violinist Terje Tønnesen. Its attention to exact intonation, unanimous ensemble and resonance of timbre is outstanding. Although playing modern instruments, the musicians take full account of 18th century performance practice, shaping and colouring phrases by bow pressure rather than sustaining them with vibrato. Attack and articulation are crisply defined and differentiated: elegantly where required, but in more vigorous allegros tending to the aggressive  – which may not suit those who like their Mozart smooth and sweet.

The disc opens with Mozart’s last and weightiest work for strings: the visionary Adagio and turbulent Fugue in C minor K546 – his tribute to the Baroque, composed in 1788 – and then works backward. The remaining pieces are all ‘light’ in genre, though in distilling his serenading manner to its essence in his Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Mozart raised lightness to a higher level. The much earlier Serenata Notturna, K239, is more interesting for its solo quartet, string orchestra and timpani scoring than for its musical substance, though the three little Salzburg Divertimentos K157-9, composed at 16, have many charms. Camerata Nordica liven things up with a few additional touches, including a timpani cadenza in the Serenata Notturna and a few bars of ghostly ‘on the bridge’ playing in a repeat section of the F major Divertimento.

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Bayan Northcott