Concert Review

Viktoria Mullova & The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Queen Elizabeth Hall - 26th January 2000

Between the heady atmospheres offered by the two operas composed at breakneck speed during Mozart's last autumn, I also had the opportunity in the interim to visit the soundworld of a younger Mozart: that offered by his 3rd and 4th Violin Concertos. Mozart certainly composed the last four of his Five Violin Concertos (the 1st is perhaps from slightly earlier) in the space of a few months during the latter half of 1775. Operatic in tone and style (indeed, borrowing material from the contemporaneous Il Re Pastore), The G Major Concerto No.3 K.216 is a model of classical form. In the aria-like second movement Mozart replaces the oboes with softer-toned flutes, whilst the finale is a boisterous rondo. One of the finest and most probing violinists of her generation, Viktoria Mullova is not immediately associated with repertoire before Beethoven. Yet, both fronting and directing the period-instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, she certainly seized the chance offered impressively to extend her range. Setting the OAE going Ms Mullova spun round to face the audience and give the 3rd Concerto a a very precise and almost sculpted rendition, full of bright touches of colour. Even more impressive was her imperious account of the 4th Concerto K218. The martial rhythm of the opening movement was pointedly maintained; the two contrasting themes of the Andante chiselled out, highlighted and duly amalgamated; and the sprightly finale rendered with terpsichorean agility and accompanying knowing wit. I hope we see more of Mullova playing and directing Mozart here soon - she has an eager and hands-on approach that makes for compulsive listening.

Duncan Hadfield

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