Sunday, November 20, 2005

Baker's Dozen Review

click on the pic for the link to a online cd-store webpage of details and samples

So I've reached 13 - recordings of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, that is, not the state of this violist's mental maturity, which I insist remains firmly at 8. I've been hunting down a recording of Anne-Sophie Mutter playing the piece for years; I came across her CD almost a decade ago, but then I was still in school, didn't have the cash and didn't yet go nutz over Mozart's biggest work for viola. I tried to order it in, and have searched every CD store I've come across - this CD which I just managed to get isn't exactly the one I've been looking for, but probably better, since it's her second recording of the Mozart concerti, made only a couple of months ago.

Yuri Bashmet is on the viola with Mutter and the two really make a nice pair musically - and also organizationally methinks, since Mutter leads the orchestra, and I'm fairly certain it was Bashmet who at least suggested some sections where the violas could be more active. Some excellent orchestral viola moments here. Overall, the recording really packs a punch, but without sounding like it's also straining a muscle in the process like Oistrakh and Midori tend to do. There is also some grace in the musicality, but its doesn't seem to be the main motto of the playing. The first movement is rather brisk and gives an initial sense of too much tightness for the listener, and the range of musical colors is commendable, though on close inspection there are times the tone gets a little indistinct. The second movement, so usually dark and warm and thus a misfit between the bright outer movements is toned down here to fit the overall picture. - the final movement does better in keeping up an energetic tempo whilst adding some breathing space, with Bashmet adding in some excellent original ideas in interpretation and rubato. The opening solo lines in this movement are always a tricky business in not sounding like the rrrrriiiibbbbbiiit-s of a frog, and it's slightly disappointing that Mutter gets around this by just deleting the written quaver rests, which is not echoed by Bashmet.

My top three Sinfonia Concertante recording choices are now: 1. Augustin Dumay, Veronika Hagen and the Salzburg Camereta Academica, 2. This new Mutter-Bashmet recording and 3. Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with soloists from the orchestra, tying with a period recording with the Portland Baroque Orchestra.

Mutter is still the classical music world's model (in more than one way, eh) of success in losing weight and keeping fit - compare the pic of her at the top of this posting to that of this, way back when:

Riiiiiibbbbiiit. And all the rest.

No comments: