MOZART: Complete Violin Concertos – Rachel Barton Pine, v./ Academy of St. Martin in the Fields / Sir Neville Marriner – Avie (2 CDs)

MOZART: Complete Violin Concertos, K364; Sinfonia Concertante –  Rachel Barton Pine, v./ Academy of  St. Martin in the Fields / Sir Neville Marriner – Avie Records (2 CDs) AV2317, [Distr. by Allegro] TT: 146:59 (1/15/15) ****:

What a fine collection this is. The Five Mozart Violin Concertos were written when the composer was in his late teens. Soloist Rachel Barton Pine has been performing these concertos in concerts that include all five. She’s joined on this disk by the sublime Academy of St. Martin in the Fields conducted by Sir Neville Marriner.

Mozart allowed for cadenzas in his concertos, as he did not write them and left the section blank in the original scores. Mozart himself performed his own when he played these works. Violinists have the option to skip the cadenza, perform a well-known one, or create their own, and that is what Ms. Pine does in all five concertos.

The five concertos follow a similar structure. The first movements are in sonata form with a double exposition, the first performed by the orchestra, the second by the soloist, with a cadenza at the end of the recapitulation. The second movements are written in a contrasting key to the outer movements, and offer a cadenza before the concluding phrase. The final movements of the first four concertos are rondos.

The performance of all six works is breathtaking. Ms. Pine knows these compositions backwards and forwards, but her playing seems fresh and exuberant. The orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner is assured and precise.

I’m quite happy with the recording. There is a solid stereo image, and the microphone placement is about perfect for maintaining good focus on the violin, without overly spotlighting it. The discs were recorded by the AIR Lyndhurst Studios in London. I can’t imagine a better acoustic result on CD than what is delivered here. The studio was founded in 1969 by George Martin, and this particular facility is located in a former Congregational church.The venue has hosted many classical recordings and film score sessions. It always seems to deliver near-perfect sound.

There is no shortage of recordings of these concertos, but I think most people looking for a collection can stop right here. This fine performance by soloist and orchestra, combined with a reference-sounding recording should be almost any Mozart lover could want.  Recommended!

TrackList:

CD 1:

Violin Concerto No. 4 in D, K218
1.  I. Allegro
2.  II. Andante cantabile
3.  III. Rondeau: Andante grazioso – Allegro ma non troppo 

Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat, K207
4.  I. Allegro moderato
5.  II. Adagio
6.  III. Presto 

Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K216
7.  I. Allegro
8.  II. Adagio
9.  III. Rondeau: Allegro 

CD 2:

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, K219
1.  I. Allegro aperto
2.  II. Adagio
3.  III. Rondeau: Tempo di menuetto 

Violin Concerto No. 2 in D, K211
4.  I. Allegro moderato
5.  II. Andante
6.  III. Rondeau: Allegro

Sinfonia concertante in E flat, K364
7.  I. Allegro maestoso
8.  II. Andante
9.  III. Presto 

—Mel Martin

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