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Mozart: The Five Violin Concertos / Mintz, English Chamber Orchestra


Release Date: 03/22/2005 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2058   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Shlomo MintzHagai ShahamJohn AndersonJosephine Knight
Conductor:  Shlomo Mintz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

R E V I E W S:

"Music-making that’s overflowing with joy – a Mozart set to gladden the heart...
It would be hard to find a more genial set of Mozart’s string concertos. Joy in the music-making brims over – unexaggerated speeds bringing a relaxed feel – with sprung rhythms and consistently sweet tone from Shlomo Mintz and alert playing from the English Chamber Orchestra he’s directing...Mike Hatch’s engineering brings clarity and intimacy as well as warmth – the sound never feels constricted. That applies to the performances...Mintz shows an admirable feeling for Mozartian style, with fine detail and no Romantic gestures. Speeds in slow movements tend to be more measured than in period performances, but they never
Read more drag...Mintz’s pointing of detail and persuasive phrasing makes all the difference. In the Sinfonia concertante, the greatest of Mozart’s string concertos, Mintz nobly cedes the violin role to Hagai Shaham; they’re well matched, and Mintz plays the viola very beautifully."
- Edward Greenfield, GRAMOPHONE

Fanfare
Schlomo Mintz and Hagai Shaham might have included Mozart’s Adagio in E Major, K 261, the Rondo in B flat, K 269/261a, and the Rondo in C Major, K 373 in their three-disc collection for Avie—as Perlman did with James Levine and the Vienna Philharmonic (Arthur Grumiaux’s set with Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra included the Rondo in C and the Adagio in E, as did Isaac Stern with both Alexander Schneider and the English Chamber Orchestra and George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra), but they round out the five authentic violin concertos and the Sinfonia concertante with the less-frequently included Concertone, K 190 (also in Stern’s set with Szell). Mintz plays the solo concertos with a purity and elegance that recalls Mozart’s remark that his performance of the Fourth Concerto went “like oil.” If, in fact, the readings emphasize the concerto’s smoothly running lines, amidst in the Fourth Concerto’s angular figuration, Mintz enlivens Sam Franko’s familiar cadenza to the Third Concerto, and he bounces jauntily in the opening movement of the Second, which, like the Concertone, seems to have benefited from slightly brighter recorded sound (those two works, as well as the Sinfonia concertante, came from a slightly later session). Similarly, if the Fifth Concerto’s Tempo di menuetto occasionally sounds more aria-like than dance-like in Mintz’s reading, the movement’s eponymous Turkish episode provides piquant rhythmic contrast; and Mintz and the orchestra engagingly buoy the concerto’s Adagio. Hagai Shaham joins Mintz as second violinist in the Concertone, and the two achieve an even balance in their many dialogues throughout the work, especially those in the slow movement, in which they’re joined by oboist John Anderson and cellist Josephine Knight. The Sinfonia concertante, like the Fifth Concerto, calls forth a special effort, although Mintz seems to warm as conductor to the concerto’s majestic orchestral score (the imposing crescendo, for example, in the opening tutti grows far more powerfully than the highest flying Mannheim rocket) than he does as viola soloist, in which role he’s hampered by a rather nasal timbre that, if it doesn’t obscure the beauty of his passagework, doesn’t communicate it in the most ingratiating way.

If these performances don’t possess the raw energy of Stern’s or the oleaginous sweetness of Grumiaux’s, they at least exhibit the energy of Grumiaux’s and the sweetness of Stern’s. Mintz states outright in a booklet note that there’s no “‘original’ way to play Mozart.” To his credit, he hasn’t forced the composer into a mold, forced him to endure personal quirks or far-fetched explorations, or attempted to discover (or create) in the earlier works any more than they offer. His readings simply grow deeper and more colorful the more mature the musical period (although the whole range spans less than a decade). Even in recorded sound that is somewhat lacking in bite (especially in the works from the earlier session), these performances should be well worth investigating for anyone interested in the repertoire, from first-time explorers to collectors. Recommended.

Robert Maxham, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin no 1 in B flat major, K 207 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Shlomo Mintz (Violin)
Conductor:  Shlomo Mintz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Salzburg, Austria 
2.
Concerto for Violin no 2 in D major, K 211 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Shlomo Mintz (Violin)
Conductor:  Shlomo Mintz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Salzburg, Austria 
3.
Concerto for Violin no 3 in G major, K 216 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Shlomo Mintz (Violin)
Conductor:  Shlomo Mintz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Salzburg, Austria 
4.
Concerto for Violin no 4 in D major, K 218 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Shlomo Mintz (Violin)
Conductor:  Shlomo Mintz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775 
5.
Concerto for Violin no 5 in A major, K 219 "Turkish" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Shlomo Mintz (Violin)
Conductor:  Shlomo Mintz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Written: 1775 
6.
Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola in E flat major, K 364 (320d) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Shlomo Mintz (Viola)
Conductor:  Shlomo Mintz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1779; Salzburg, Austria 
7.
Concertone for 2 Violins in C major, K 190 (186E) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  John Anderson (Oboe), Josephine Knight (Cello), Shlomo Mintz (Violin),
Hagai Shaham (Violin)
Conductor:  Shlomo Mintz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1774; Salzburg, Austria 

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