Magazine article Strings

Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, K 364; Violin Concerto No.4 K 218; Violin Concerto No.2, K 211

Magazine article Strings

Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, K 364; Violin Concerto No.4 K 218; Violin Concerto No.2, K 211

Article excerpt

Mozart: Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola, K 364; Violin Concerto No.4 K 218; Violin Concerto No.2, K 211. Maxim Vengerov, violin/ director; Lawrence Power, viola; UBS Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra. (EMI 3 78374 2)

This is the first of Vengerov's projected recordings of Mozart's complete works for violin and orchestra. He says the undertaking, preceded by research into 18th-century playing style, including consultations with vocal and instrumental specialists, was "an inspiring musical journey" of "rediscovering" Mozart by "going back to the scores."

The playing, however, does not always reflect this. For example, many of the dynamic changes and contrasts, notably lots of echo effects, are not in the text, and, most surprisingly, the violist uses normal tuning in the Sinfonia concertante, not the scordatura Mozart indicates. Throughout, the style is basically lyrical; tempi are moderate, but the flow is impeded by many delays, stops and pauses. The fast movements are so stately that much of their humor, spice, and sprightliness is lost. The phrasing is careful but often fussy, robbing the music of simplicity and making it sound unspontaneous.

Vengerov's playing, of course, is splendid: noble, restrained, inwardly expressive, without recourse to external effects, even slides. His tone is ravishingly pure and beautiful, his vibrato is lean and focused. His virtuosity is entirely unobtrusive; he saves it for the cadenzas, using his own in the violin concertos (they are rather long and not very stylistic, but very brilliant and effective). …

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