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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Sinfonia concertante in E flat major K364 (1779) [31:44]
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K218 (1775) [26:02]
Walter Barylli (violin); Paul Doktor (viola)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Clemens Krauss (K364)
Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera/Felix Prohaska (K218)
rec. 1944, Grossen Musikvereins-Saal, Vienna (K364) and 1951, Vienna (K218)
PREISER 90760 [57:54]
Experience Classicsonline

This is a fascinating retrieval. The broadcast recording of K218 turned up in 2006, secreted in the archives of Wiesbaden and Potsdam Babelsberg and it was pinpointed as a performance given by the young concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic with Clemens Krauss in April 1944. Walter Barylli was born in Vienna in 1921 and is still alive at the time of writing. He is best known for his eponymous quartet, originally founded during the War but re-established in 1945, and which left behind so many estimable recordings. But he was also an occasional soloist of repute and this 1944 performance gives one an opportunity to assess him, allied as it is here to a commercial 1951 recording of the Sinfonia Concertante.

The sound for 1944 is good, as is typical for German and Austrian sources of this period. Krauss brings out the antiphonal string writing very cogently, and he marshals the forces throughout with familiar authority. Barylli’s tone, as captured by the microphone at least, is very bright and forward. He employs a fair amount of portamento - some it has to be said fairly lavish, a device he’d largely begun to eschew by the time he came to record K364. There’s plenty of personalised phrasing as well as tempo fluctuations, and all this ensures that whilst it’s certainly not the most rectitudinous of performances it’s never dull. This is especially true in the hotly vibrated slow movement - slow and rapt - and in the unhurried ease of the finale. Criticisms? A touch laissez faire in the finale, perhaps, and some vapid turns of phrase in the central movement. A touch of wow once or twice on the tape, as well.

Barylli was teamed with Paul Doktor and conductor Felix Prohaska for the 1951 Sinfonia concertante. This is a fine traversal which the old Record Guide wrote off peremptorily. That book preferred the heavenly length of the Stern-Primrose-Casals performance, which I find turgid. Barylli and Doktor are tonally well matched. Their playing is thoughtful and temperate, not too ‘operatic’ in flourishes, the violist proving a touch more overtly expressive than his violin colleague. Thing are phrasally pliant throughout, though the ultimate depths of the slow movement are not fully plumbed. It’s altogether a pleasing reading, with a relaxed approach to the finale, and a good sense of definition and characterisation. It’s good to have it back in this attractive transfer and makes a splendid disc-mate for that rare K218.

Jonathan Woolf





















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