MOZART Violin Concertos: No. 3; No. 5. Rondo in C. Adagio in E • Susanna Yoko Henkel (vn); Lithuanian CO • THE SPOT 288697 (61:21)
Here we have a most unusual and, in some ways, enigmatic item: a violinist of mixed Japanese-German heritage, playing the music of a Viennese composer with a Lithuanian orchestra. If that isn’t cultural diversity, I don’t know what is!
My only two complaints about the CD are that there are absolutely no notes to say who Susanna Yoko Henkel is orRead more who she studied with, and that the cover photo is yet another of those come-hither sexpot shots that does absolutely nothing for the artist except, perhaps, in a negative way. The majority of those who will buy this CD will do so based on Henkel’s performances, which are extraordinary, and not on the fact that she is lying on her back, apparently naked, with her violin. (The same photo is repeated on the fold-over inside panel—this is one of those trifold cardboard CD boxes—as well as on the front cover of the booklet. I did Henkel a favor and turned the booklet sideways before sticking it back in its slot, so now her head is straight up, smiling at you, and I no longer have to look at her bustline.) For those who do not know this artist and want to learn something about her, you can read a capsule bio at linnrecords.com/artist-susanna-yoko-henkel.aspx.
Once we move beyond these glitches, however, what we encounter is a CD of extraordinary performances by both soloists and orchestra. The conductorless Lithuanian group practically bristles with excitement; it seems to have a tremendous musical story to tell you, and can’t wait to relate it. The music moves in what I can best describe as a streamlined bump and jog style. There are passages in which the music proceeds in a linear fashion, but others in which a sudden forte jolt, a swoop into the lower register, or a touch of rubato catches you by surprise and reminds you that this music can be dramatically effective in the right hands. Although it is conductorless, I’m assuming that it is led, as such groups often are, by the concertmaster, who in this case is Eugenijus Urbonas. Good for you, Eugenijus!
Henkel’s solo violin conception fits into this dynamic framework in a surprising yet appropriate way. Her tone, on a 1710 Stradivarius, is neither plush nor rounded; it has a lean, silvery quality with a bit of a bite to it, almost as if she emerged from the string section to play the solo part. The effect on the listener is tremendous, in some ways extremely playful, more like the banter of a lover during a concert, a commentary on the music being played by the orchestra, somehow, strangely, complementing it. Another surprise: Henkel wrote all of her own cadenzas, and put them into every movement of the concertos. They are really wonderful cadenzas, musically apropos yet full of little surprises. (Her performances of the first and third movements of the K 216 concerto have been uploaded on YouTube.) The highlight of the entire CD is the third movement of the Concerto No. 5, in which the Lithuanian orchestra practically stomps its feet in rhythm.
I don’t know if this CD is the harbinger of the complete Mozart violin concertos as played by Henkel with this orchestra, but I sure hope so. And I want first dibs on all of their future Mozart concerto releases.
Concerto for Violin no 3 in G major, K 216by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Performer:
Susanna Yoko Henkel (Violin)
Susanna Yoko Henkel
Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1775; Salzburg, Austria
Remarkable PerformanceMarch 25, 2014By D. Tuchler (Clayton, MO)See All My Reviews"I am sufficiently unacademic to not know how historically informed this performance was. I can say that, as a lover of Mozart, the performance is remarkably enjoyable. To my 75-year-old ears, listening to a reasonably good sound system, the quality of the recording is first-rate. I already have the Davis/Grumiaux recording of this material on LPs, which I like very much. I am glad to have two very good recordings of this work."Report Abuse
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