One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No. 1 [19:30]
Violin Concerto No. 2 [19:26]
Violin Concerto No. 3 [21:56]
Violin Concerto No. 4 [22:55]
Violin Concerto No. 5 [26:17]
Rondo K269 [6:50]
Rondo K373 [5:36]
Adagio K261 [6:33]
Isabelle Faust (violin)
Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
rec. Teldex Studio, Berlin, March 2015 & February 2016
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902230.31 [67:53 + 61:26]

Isabelle Faust is so versatile a violinist that she is as much at home in Bach as she is in Bartók, so I really have no excuse for being a tad surprised at just how good this Mozart set is. Faust plays these concertos as though she has been a specialist in this repertoire all her life, and the results are utterly delightful throughout.

Faust plays a 1704 Stradivarius here; and, for those who are interested, the dates are also given for all of the instruments played by Il Giardino Armonico, another example of Harmonia Mundi’s typically excellent programme notes. She is entirely alive to the period sensitivities of the repertory and the instrument, and she never tries to turn Mozart’s youthful concertos into prototypes of Beethoven, as some are guilty of doing. Instead her performances are lithe, agile and full of air, allowing the music to breathe naturally and totally comfortably.

To see what I mean, go straight to No. 5, both the finest concerto and the finest performance on the set. When the violin first enters [at 1:14] it seems to introduce itself in a withdrawn, almost shy manner, as if reluctant to steal the orchestra’s thunder. Introductions over, however, the violin then sings its principal theme [2:03] with a carefree brilliance that reminds you of the characters of, say, Figaro or Don Giovanni, soaring upwards with unfettered ebullience. I found it exhilarating, but also musically very sensitive. Faust sees herself as primus inter pares here, blending her sound perfectly with that of the orchestra, and only emerging as dominant when required to do so.

That sense of partnership is typical of the way that both she and Antonini approach the music. First movements are steady and purposeful but never too serious. They plug into the galant style of the opening of Nos. 2 and 4, and they get the balance of vigour and musicality just right in the opening of No. 3, much more balanced than are, say, Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante in their recording (which is still brilliant but which takes a more vigorously iconoclastic view). Slow movements are restrained and lyrical, and often come close to the form of an operatic aria without words (that of No. 4 is a particular highlight). Finales are vigorous and often dancelike. No. 1’s and No. 3’s positively leap, while those of Nos 2 and 4 are more restrained and rococo. The Turkish interlude of No. 5’s stands out very effectively with a noticeably faster tempo and the slap of the orchestra treading on just the right side of ugliness.

The shorter pieces are also very successful. The two Rondeaux are polite and conversational, and I particularly enjoyed the uncommonly beautiful Adagio, which was new to me, and is played with such sensitivity and gentleness as to be completely transfixing.

We’re not short of complete sets of the Mozart concertos, and I will always have a soft spot for Zukerman’s set, which was how I got to know these works in the first place. This one is right up at the top, though. It brings all that is best about period performance without any of the preachiness or ugliness that can creep in, and it’s to be recommended very warmly indeed. Dare we hope for Faust to record the Sinfonia Concertante?

Incidentally, the booklet notes are excellent, and include an essay from the great fortepianist Andeas Staier, who advised on the cadenzas, explaining his musical choices.

Simon Thompson



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3