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Mozart sinfonia 1690
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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K364 (1779, arr. violin & cello & orchestra, M Zdunik) [30:55]
Duo No 1 in G, K423 (1783) [15:33].
Symphony No 29 in A, K201 (1774) [22:39]
Karolina Nowotczyńska (violin)
Marcin Zdunik (cello)
Elbląg Chamber Orchestra/Marek Moś
rec. 3-4 October 2020, 8-10 January 2021, Concert Hall of the Kazimierz Wiłkomirski State Music School, Elbląg, Poland.
DUX 1690 [69:20]

The Elbląg Chamber Orchestra play with impressive precision and clarity, superlative articulation and outstanding tautness of ensemble. There is some excellent violin playing here, and while the recording tends to place the winds well forward, hearing such splendidly unified pairs of horns and oboes in the first movement of the Sinfonia concertante at such very close quarters, is more a privilege than a disturbance. The photograph of the orchestra in the booklet looks as if it is a very young orchestra indeed, and while an extensive biography of the ensemble in the booklet is a model of how to use words without imparting any worthwhile information, it seems as if this is connected in some way with the visually impressive (and extraordinarily colourful) Wiłkomirski State Music School in Elbląg in Poland. Whatever its true origins, it is certainly something of which Elbląg seems particularly proud; and justifiably so, for it plays with unusual commitment and verve.

The booklet tells us that this all-Mozart programme contains two works which “are among the most popular works in the history of music”. I find it difficult to go along with that; glorious though the Sinfonia concertante is, I doubt it would come top of the list even in a survey of Mozart’s most popular hits. Never mind that, though, for it receives here a performance which fully deserves the widest airing. Karolina Nowotczyńska and Marcin Zdunik indulge in delightful conversational gambits wholeheartedly supported by the orchestra. The intimacy of the work is well conveyed and the delicacy of the textures beautifully maintained. That said, it is in the much rarer Duo for Violin and Cello that the two soloists show their real strengths. Composed for Mozart’s employer at Salzburg, Prince-Archbishop Colloredo, in 1783, one can only marvel at Mozart’s genius in making these two instruments sound at times like a much larger ensemble. Nowotczyńska and Zdunik relish the opportunity to enter into lively and detailed musical discourse over three delightful movements, and both show a high level of virtuosity as well as a real sense of mutual awareness.

While the playing of both orchestra and soloists is highly impressive, what sets the performances apart is the care conductor Marek Moś has obviously taken over every tiny detail. Phrasing and dynamics are exquisitely managed, so that there is a sense that this is a highly manicured performance, intellectually intense yet musically satisfying. It may not rank amongst the most perceptive or distinctive interpretations of Mozart, and especially of the Symphony, available on disc, but it certainly stands out as one of the most musically assured.

Marc Rochester

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