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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No.1 in B flat major, KV 207 [20:02]
Rondo for Violin and Orchestra in B flat major, KV 211 [6:30]
Violin Concerto No.2 in D major, KV 211 [19:23]
Violin Concerto No.3 in G major, KV 216 [22:29]
Violin Concerto No.4 in D major, KV 218 [21:41]
Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, KV 219 [28:28]
Adagio for Violin and Orchestra in E major, KV 261 [6:43]
Rondo for Violin and Orchestra in C major, KV 373 [5:39]
Giuliano Carmignola (violin)
Il Quartettone/Carlo de Martini
rec. 1997, Palazzo Pignano, Pieve di San Martino, Italy. DDD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92884 [68:38 + 62:47]


Giuliano Carmignola has made a number of superb CDs of Italian baroque music in recent years. On Archiv 0003849-02 there are concertos by Locatelli, Vivaldi and Tartini, on Sony Classical more than one excellent set of Vivaldi concertos (see reviews;; and one of the very best of the many recordings of the Four Seasons (Sony Classical 51352). All of these recordings were made with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Andrea Marcon. His set of Bach violin sonatas, also with Marcon – which I haven’t heard - has been much admired, too (Sony Classical S2K 89469).

This present CD finds him playing Mozart, with a different Italian chamber orchestra and a different conductor. And, sadly, the results are just a little on the disappointing side. Carmignola is far too good a fiddler for things to be without interest – and there are some fine moments; but too much seems rather routine, rather lacking in the vigour and sheer panache which characterises so many of Carmignola’s recordings of the music of the Venetian baroque. Words like efficient and capable come to mind – and these are not virtues to be sniffed at. But to do anything full justice to Mozart, rather more is needed. These recordings don’t seem to have been issued previously; that they have had to wait since 1997 to appear may not be entirely without significance.

One problem is the orchestral playing, which is never very inspired and is, at times, rather dull or colourless. Carmignola himself doesn’t always sound as though he is fully engaged in the project. Conductor and soloist seem to be at odds over tempo at one or two points in the fourth concerto. Overall, the playing fails to convey the music excitement of the best of these concertos – such as the simultaneous charm and intellectual weight of the third concerto, the brilliant contrasts of the final movement of the fourth, or the Turkish ‘interruption’ in the rondeau, tempo di menuetto which closes the fifth.

K161 is played with elegance and poise; in some of the slow movements Carmignola comes into something like his own and the solo violin line sings out attractively. But, taken as a whole, these fall some way short of the best of modern recordings of the Mozart concertos. At Brilliant’s low price they would serve a first-time buyer as an introduction to some fine music. But they cannot compete with versions such as those – choosing recordings in a variety of performance styles – by Arthur Grumiaux with Colin Davis and Raymond Leppard (on Philips), Simon Standage with Christopher Hogwood (Decca), Monica Huggett with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Virgin) or Anne-Sophie Mutter with Yuri Bashmet and the LPO (Deutsche Grammophon).

The recorded sound is perfectly acceptable – though the balance rather favours the soloist – and the booklet notes are helpful.

Glyn Pursglove


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