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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto in G major No.3 K216 (1775) [22:29]
Sinfonia concertante in E flat major K364 (1779) [29:20]
Dominika Falger (violin)
Johannes Flieder (viola)
Wratislavia Chamber Orchestra/Christian Schulz
rec. Great Studio of Polish Radio in Wrocław, 23-26 September 2006
DUX 0454 [51:49]

I’m always a bit wary when approaching new releases of old favourites like this. It’s very easy to get caught in the cycle of arguments which start and end with ‘do we really need another Mozart’s etc?’ Until we get an unshakeably definitive Mozart’s etc then I suppose the argument can never be concluded, and as such a thing is unlikely ever to exist then we shall continue to be making Mozart’s etcs for as long as people want to hear them.
This CD is the final instalment in a complete cycle of Mozart’s Violin Concertos by the same forces, completed by two other attractive looking Dux releases with Nos. 4 and 5 on one, 1 and 2 plus the Rondos and Adagio in E. I would like to compliment the designers on some nice graphics on the covers, and if the transparency of recording and standard of playing is anything like that on this CD then listeners are unlikely to be disappointed.
To start with, the orchestra is an excellent ensemble which has been in existence since 1996, having been put together from an assembly of prize-winning musicians and virtuoso soloists. Their sound is lively and fresh, and young-ish conductor Christian Schulz is clearly very much in sympathy with their manner of working. He largely allows the music to speak for itself, eschewing eccentric tempi or extremes of rubato, but ensuring that phrase shapes and dynamics are sensitively and accurately observed. The strings of this chamber orchestra are a strong feature, in their unity maintaining a compact lightness, while at the same time creating a big sound where necessary.
The most important thing to note about Dominika Falger’s playing is the beautiful tone she creates with her 17th century Bernardus Calcanius violin. The instrument sings elegantly above the orchestra, ideally balanced and never giving any sense of strain or demanding the kind of gritty soloistic digging which goes badly with Mozart. Her cadenzas are also very nicely played indeed. The only technical glitch is a sudden and temporary drop in level at 1:47 into the final Rondeau, but the recording is otherwise full, and has an impressive stereo spread of sound, the resonance of the studio well nigh perfect for the size of the ensemble and the nature of the music.
For the Sinfonia concertante, Dominika Falger is joined by viola player Johannes Flieder. These players are well matched, and will know each others playing well as they are both leading members of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Inevitably, the viola tends to mix more with the texture of the orchestra, but with a light chamber-music approach from the band when the soloists are playing all of the notes come across well. The famously beautiful central Andante is taken at an unsentimentally un-slow tempo - I won’t say it’s brisk, but it is certainly less slow than some. I actually quite like this approach, where the musical ‘hooks’ move up on you almost unsuspectingly, without lots of lingering and temporally spotlit moments. The only slight problem with this is that, compared with an opening movement which is more maestoso than allegro, the expectation might that of a broader middle movement. This is an observation of nuance and taste however, and with such beautiful playing on offer I wouldn’t want to put anyone off through a minor detail of tempo relationships: in any case, the final Presto is swift and energetic enough. Flieder does put in one strange moment at 1:33 into this movement – a double-stop which sounds like the musical equivalent of blowing one’s nose, but otherwise this is pretty flawless stuff.
As for comparisons, there are so many versions of these pieces around that it’s hard to know where to look. The set I’ve been living with for donkey’s years is the DG complete box with Gidon Kremer, assisted by Kim Kashkashian in the Sinfonia concertante and the Wiener Philharmoniker under Nikolaus Harnoncourt. While this set from the early 1980s has many strong qualities, I find I now prefer the lighter chamber orchestra accompaniment from Wratislava, and while I’m a fan of Kremer in many of his recordings, his sometimes bouncy bow and rather more glassy tone is less appealing in these concertos. Now I’ve unearthed this set for comparison purposes I realise I probably haven’t listened to it for about 10 years, which must mean something. This new Dux release has rejuvenated my interest in these works and makes me want to acquire the other two discs, which must also mean something.
Dominy Clements


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