Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K.216 (1775) [23:37]
Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major, K.211 (1775) [21:13]
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K.219 (1775) [30:15]
Vadim Repin (violin)
Wiener Kammerorchester/Yehudi Menuhin
rec. Casino Zögernitz, Vienna, Austria, 21-23 October 1997
WARNER APEX 2564 67301-7 [75:41]

This is a reissue of a Warner Elatus CD of more than ten years ago, originally released on a full-price Erato CD. It has stood the test of time well.

Repin was 26 years old when he recorded these concertos, but demonstrated a maturity far beyond his years. His playing is elegant throughout and he produces a silky tone on the A. Stradivari “Rudi” 1708 violin used for this recording. Yehudi Menuhin, a Mozartean of high standing accompanies well keeping everything light and classical. The Vienna Chamber Orchestra leaves nothing to be desired either. That this disc is now offered at super budget price makes it all the more attractive. There are countless performances of these evergreen works from which to choose and some may prefer more dramatic interpretations. I reviewed a new disc by Renaud Capuçon with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Louis Langrée on Virgin Classics that included the Concerto No. 3 and their interpretation was at once more dramatic and yet also aware of current historically informed performance practices — less orchestral vibrato, for example. While I have a slight preference for that performance, the disc is at full price. The one quibble I have with Repin’s is the cadenza in the first movement of this concerto which goes on too long and becomes virtuosic in a way that belongs more to the late nineteenth century than to the eighteenth. This seems rather incongruous with the artists’ generally classical approach to the work. However, others might not be all that bothered by it. Certainly the performance as a whole has much to recommend it, as do the other two on this disc.

The Concerto No. 2 is placed second on the disc, as indicated in the head note above, probably because it is not as popular as the third or fifth in the series. As far as I am concerned, it is as attractive a concerto as any of the other Mozart works in the genre. Again the performance is very fine, with only a cadenza in the first movement that goes over the top and would seem more appropriate for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The one in the second movement also leans in that direction.

The performance of the Concerto No. 5 with its famous “Turkish” rondo comes off best of all. For one thing, the first movement cadenza is stylistically more in keeping with the rest of the concerto, as is that in the Adagio second movement. Repin and Menuhin bring out the exotic character of the concerto with its percussion in the rondo finale very well. Indeed, they seem to find more depth in this work than in the others. At least that is the impression I have. In any case, it concludes the disc in fine fashion.

Unfortunately, like the other Apex discs with which I am familiar, the insert contains no notes at all — nothing on the works or the performers. It only lists the pieces and the timing of the individual movements, which are also listed on the back of the CD case, and on the facing page the production details. Even at budget price, they ought to do better than this. Nevertheless, as performances and recordings, these accounts should give much satisfaction.

Leslie Wright

Fine accounts of these concertos at budget price.