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Mozart: Violin Concertos K 216, 218 & 219 / Manze, Et Al


Release Date: 01/10/2006 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907385   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Andrew Manze
Conductor:  Andrew Manze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If you're looking for an excellent disc containing Mozart's three most popular violin concertos played on period instruments, look no further. These are splendid performances, musically astute and full of ear-catching detail. The playing of the English Concert under Andrew Manze is simply marvelous, with polished strings and delightful flutes, oboes, and horns. I have only two small criticisms, both somewhat generic in nature but still applicable to Manze's general approach. Both concern the sparing use of vibrato, particularly in slow movements and in his instrument's upper register. This has a tendency to highlight any slip of intonation, and although Manze is about as good as they come in this department, there are inevitably a few such Read more lapses, and they are noticeable (though no more so than his authentic-instrument colleagues usually manage).

My second quibble concerns the resultant thinness of tone on long-held notes. Now don't get me wrong: Manze isn't exactly a hair-shirt HIPster in this department (HIP = Historically Informed Performance, in case you didn't know). He plays with real gusto and plenty of passion where the music allows. But when the orchestra in the slow movement of the Third concerto creates such a heavenly ambiance, the tiny-toned entrance of the soloist constitutes a bit of a let-down. It all comes down to a personal choice: you can view this music as conveying purity and innocence, or you can hear it as caressingly sensual. Manze, at least judging by his sonic preferences, leans toward the first view; I prefer the second. That said, he makes an excellent case for his position in the central minor-key episode, where his "straight" tone really adds an alarming (and very Mozartian) pungency to the dissonant clashes between the melody and its anxiously sighing accompaniment.

Manze also earns points for his excellent, original cadenzas in each concerto. These are full of virtuosity but also are stylish, clearly in sync with the musical argument--and not a second too long. In general, the quick movements never hang fire as they so often do in traditional performances on modern instruments. The famous "Turkish" interlude in the finale of the Fifth concerto seldom has sounded so emphatically exotic, with col legno bows really slapping against the strings and the ensuing return of the main rondo theme perfectly judged. The sonics also couldn't be better, with ideal balances both within the orchestra and in relation to the soloist. I'm not giving up Grumiaux (Philips) anytime soon as my recording of reference, but Manze offers his own valid solution to the problem of finding the right balance between the music's high spirits and its inimitably Mozartian lyric grace.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Violin no 3 in G major, K 216 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Andrew Manze (Violin)
Conductor:  Andrew Manze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/2005 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst, London, England 
Length: 24 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Notes: Andrew Manze performs his own cadenzas on this selection. 
2. Concerto for Violin no 4 in D major, K 218 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Andrew Manze (Violin)
Conductor:  Andrew Manze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775 
Date of Recording: 03/2005 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst, London, England 
Length: 22 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Andrew Manze performs his own cadenzas on this selection. 
3. Concerto for Violin no 5 in A major, K 219 "Turkish" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Andrew Manze (Violin)
Conductor:  Andrew Manze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Written: 1775 
Date of Recording: 03/2005 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst, London, England 
Length: 28 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: Andrew Manze performs his own cadenzas on this selection. 

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