> WA Mozart - Violin Concertos [JW]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concertos
No 1 K207 (1773)
No 2 K211 (1775)
No 3 K216 (1775)
No 4 K218 (1775)
No 5 K219 (1775)
Rondo for Violin and Orchestra K269 (1775-77)
Rondo for Violin and Orchestra K373 (1781)
Cho-Liang Lin, violin
English Chamber Orchestra/Raymond Leppard
No recording details provided [1988-89?]
SONY SM2K89983 [2 CDs 133.53]


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There is no shortage of recommendable Mozart Violin Concerto discs. This slimline Sony double however offers the advantage of the alternative finale of the First Concerto (the Rondo K269) and also the Rondo K373. In addition to which there is the not-so–insignificant matter of the auspiciously successful pairing of Cho-Liang Lin and Raymond Leppard. Their partnership works as well for the less-played earlier two Concertos as it does for the bigger works and it does so because the balance of masculine and feminine elements in Mozartian violin playing are held in proper and creative balance. Cho-Liang Lin has a silken tone, quite small but concentrated, with vibrato even across the scale and unusually pliant. This lends a quicksilver quality to his playing and flexibility as well; his stylistic adroitness never becomes indulged or mannered and his negotiation of mood and nuance is most convincing. In all these he is aided in no small measure by the English Chamber Orchestra, on excellent form under Leppard who is solicitous to his soloist whilst maintaining a scrupulous and expressive musicality within which Cho-Liang Lin can negotiate the solo line.

Some highlights; the well-chosen tempi for K216 even though one might conceivably argue that there is slight heaviness in the final movement. The brisk and gainly opening Allegro of K218 and its gracious finale with artfully concentrated cadenzas. I also admired the pliable tempo of the Allegro aperto of K219; in the slow movement Lin is plangent without indulgence and there is plenty of youthful élan in his spirited playing. The Concerto’s final Tempo di Menuetto section is a notable example of sensitive shaping and Lin’s limpidity of phrasing and control of dynamic shading. In the Rondo in B Flat Major (K269) he is stately and elegant, maybe less full of vigour than, say, an older player such as Josef Suk who is rather more vigorous here, and elsewhere as well. Very few real demerits – maybe Leppard’s basses are inclined to slight over heaviness in the slow movement of K219 and whilst it’s impeccably executed the comparable movement in K218 feels slightly too slow and Lin can’t equal – I know of no one who can – Szigeti’s mesmeric phrasing.

Still this is a highly laudable set. As is regrettably now de rigeur with Sony reissues there are no recording locations or dates but I think they derive from sessions circa 1987/88. Not many sets since have been able successfully to challenge this one for all-round excellence.

Jonathan Woolf

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