I confess I wondered what this disc would sound like, given Maestro Biondi’s penchant for Vivaldi and quick tempos; the result is that Mozart plays as an extension of the school of Viotti, Tartini, and Locatelli. The Italian opera tradition forms as much a part of the concertos’ melos as the predominance of the Mannheim rockets in the string lines. The K. 207, particularly, reveals more Austrian than French elements, and the brief first movement cadenza more than hints at the figures in the famous A Major “Turkish” Concerto. Biondi imprints the Adagio with the same Lombardic pulse we find in Vivaldi, which, added to Mozart’s predilection for an occasional sforzato, keeps our rhythmic interest engrossed. The last movement blends Haydnesque jollity with Vivaldi’s Autumn from The Seasons – a virtuoso tour de force.
Biondi’s athletic, Italianate approach makes the K. 211 and K. 216 concertos even more hybrid than their normal wont: essentially these are French galant works with debts to Mozart’s open-air, serenade style. Biodi’s thin, reedy tone provides a nasal, brittle sonority to the D Major strolling Andante. Both the D Major and the G Major Concerto conclude with a rondeau, the latter rife with fermatas for the insertion of ad libitum cadenzas. The D Major’s finale is light, deft, and pastoral, in that its drone bass underlies the quick figurations in the treble. The G Major Concerto lifts Mozart’s inspiration to a higher level, a profounder urgency of feeling, especially in the D Major Adagio. If the opening movement obtains a new, galloping fervor in Biondi’s realization, Bondi graces the Adagio with a tender Baroque affect. The last movement Rondo bubbles with brisk vitality, the G Minor episode, a sort of pavane, quite poigant. Idiosyncratic, revisionist Mozart at its musical best. Compelling.