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From Bow to String
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola in E flat major, K364 (1779) [30:31]
William WALTON (1902-1983)
Viola Concerto (1928-9, revised 1961) [25:48]
Glenn Dicterow (violin); Karen Dreyfus (viola)
Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra/Carl St Clair
Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra/Jerzy Swoboda
rec, August 2001 (Mozart) and June 1995 (Walton), Warsaw

Experience Classicsonline

This is one of the more unusual couplings for these two works. The performances are not new, either, the Mozart dating from 2001 and the Walton from 1995. The soloists are the New York-based Dicterow and Dreyfus, admired musicians in their own right and collectively. Their partners are the Warsaw National Philharmonic under two different conductors.

The Sinfonia Concertante receives a rather heavy-booted traversal from the orchestra. The penetrating quality of Dicterow’s tone is sometimes a touch over-bright and Dreyfus, whose tone as recorded here sounds rather dour, do not make an especially sympathetic pairing either. Dreyfus tends to overbalance in unison passages as well. And they’ve also not made up their minds in the slow movement as to the question of matching vibrato speeds. Dicterow comes on with plenty of expressive vibrato which is not matched by Dreyfus who plays with greater tonal warmth here than in the opening movement but with a medium speed vibrato. A few slightly mannered phrasal moments upset the finale. The orchestra’s bass section blurs; the winds are all right. The end result, I’m afraid, is underwhelming.

The Walton sees Dreyfus with Jerzy Swoboda. The orchestra once more seems none too committed but Dreyfus plays better than she had in the Mozart. Tempo-wise things are fine in my book. They’re not as brisk as Primrose-Walton, who drove through it excitingly, or as slow as Vengerov who did the opposite. We’ve been spoilt by recordings – Riddle’s premiere recording, the Primroses, Doktor, Imai, Bashmet et al (which includes Lawrence Power’s unveiling of the original pre-1961 revision). This Warsaw performance is dutiful, malleable but hardly imbued with the kind of allure ideally necessary. Dreyfus moves things forward with proficiency and skill but the orchestral tapestry tends to be too flat.

Jonathan Woolf



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