MOZART The Violin Concertos / Carmignola 4777371

Belying his increasing maturity, Claudio Abbado's conducting of Mozart has been getting leaner, keener and even more insightful in recent years -- not that he's ever fallen short of interpretative mastery with this composer. Teamed up here with his recently-formed young Italian ensemble, Orchestra Mozart, and his former protégé, skilled period-violin specialist Giuliano Carmignola, Abbado makes this familiar music appear fresh and vital, as if you're hearing it for the first time. The most striking thing about these recordings of Mozart's numbered violin concertos is the absolute homogeneity of the playing: around 30 alert musicians totally tuned to the vision of their maestro. Another striking thing is the chamber-like essence of that vision, especially in the intensely intimate 'slow' movements. The tempos of these are brisk, but so convincing they often make 'traditional' versions sound unjustifiably indulgent . . . it is impossible not to be won over by the gossamer-like delicacy of soloist and orchestra. The outer movements bristle with vibrancy and brio with articulation throughout being crisp and impeccably phrased. Abbado and Company really bring this music alive -- a great achievement in early Mozart, which is easy to treat as no more than chocolate-box beauty . . . His excellent "Die Zauberflöte" for Deutsche Grammophon (from 2006), with the modern-instrument Mahler Chamber Orchestra, is in the same lithe mould as these renditions with the period-instrument Orchestra Mozart -- which enhances Abbado's approach with even greater lightness and transparency of texture. The charismatic Carmignola is a superb exponent of these concertos, taking the music seriously while injecting an infectious sense of fun . . . Finely nuanced, but never bogged down by detail, this performance is sprightlier than many, yet it still conveys the full emotional range of this extraordinary work. The sotto voce playing in the central Andante . . . goes straight to the heart; and the delightfully impish finale is a marvel of precision ensemble and joie de vivre. The studio recording is clear and immediate, with the soloists well-balanced. There are many fine recordings of these works available, each offering their own insights; but few convey such unaffected vibrancy and passion.

Graceful, dynamic and surprising, Giuliano Carmignola's collaboration with Claudio Abbado and the Orchestra Mozart is a must-have recording. Carmignola's slightly abrasive, peppery tone lends these often over-sweet works an heroic, Beethovenian quality. The G major Concerto is pure vitality, while the A major Concerto moves from "sprezzatura" to melancholy elegance to hayseed rusticity to "zigeuner" fire. Joined by viola player Danusha Waskiewicz, the second disc ends with "Sinfonia Concertante". The orchestral accompaniment is magnificent throughout.

Giuliano Carmignola is much more associated with Baroque repertoire than with Classical. It's good to be able to report that the qualities that made his Locatelli and Vivaldi so gripping are all here as well. There's the complete technical fluidity, at the service of a lively musical imagination, and he's backed up by some superbly shaped orchestral playing under Abbado, whose engagement with historically informed performances is now well-established. Right from the opening tutti of the First Concerto, it's clear that he's lavishing all his powers of balance, phrasing and charm on the music. And neither conductor nor soloist is a slouch; the finale of this concerto sets off like a rocket, and stays tightly rhythmic throughout . . . phrasing is enterprising, sometimes not what you might expect, but always convincing . . . these are even finer -- more whole, more profound, more inevitable -- and quite as well recorded (as Julia Fischer's) . . . there's always space for the expressive point. That's especially true in the slow movement of the Sinfonia Concertante -- a true andante, rather than an indulgent adagio -- where flexibility of phrasing, rubato and vibrato come together to let us glimpse the perfection that is Mozart.

In close, conspiratorial collusion with Abbado and his lithe period-instrument orchestra, Giuliano Carmignola brings a sense of impish adventure to these familiar concertos . . . the Italian violinist treats them as surrogate operas, relishing the teenaged composer's quicksilver contrasts and irreverent delight in the unexpected . . . the music always has space to breathe and "speak". Phrasing is marvellously fresh and inventive, with witty . . . touches of ornamentation. Routine-looking passagework darts and frolics with coltish exuberance. Inspired by Abbado's hyper-sensitive accompaniments, Carmignola and his viola accomplice form a creative, symbiotic partnership in the darkly majestic Sinfonia Concertante. In the tragic andante, the players' mingled purity, suppleness and expressive urgency can make most other performances seem self-indulgent by comparison.

The outstanding baroque violinist Giuliano Carmignola is an artist I have long admired for his fine-spun silvery tone, impeccable taste and ability to assert his individuality within a mid-18th Century violin . . . Carmignola moves up a weight with this dazzling set of Mozart's five violin concertos . . . These recordings . . . are outstanding in every way: rich and characterful but without a trace of romantic excess. Carmignola makes his points with the beauty precision and rhythmic elan of his playing, rather than by pushing himself forward as a typical soloist would. I cannot find any fault with this set, which is now my top recommendation for these works . . .

The music breathes a life of its own as he ardently inflects its phrases to shape the tension and relaxation of his line which -- as elsewhere -- he also embellishes. And pauses are decorated with lead-ins. Here is personal involvement that . . . is present in full flower. It's a flowering for Abbado too, as he summons a passionate advocacy that takes in the implications of key and time signatures on atmosphere and pacing, uses dynamic markings and intuitive accents to keep rhythm aloft, adjusts the timbres of the wind instruments (oboes are vivid or subdued, horns play in alto or basso) to suit the colouration he requires, and aerates the orchestra fabric for maximum clarity. Conducting and interpretation are in the realms of greatness -- and no mistake . . . their skilled dovetailing and intelligent use of tone colour speak of symbiosis. Abbado remains "primus inter pares", watchful, supportive and fortifying.

. . . Carmignola's detailed phrasing reveals a wealth of nuance that lifts the work above the status of a mere harbinger of things to come . . . Once again, the slow movement focuses Carmignola's wide-ranging musical ideas and fuses them with Mozart's, producing results many may find startling in their revelatory power. The Third Concerto brings more of these moments. The first movement's recitative-like passages, for example, emerge as strikingly conversational . . . and passages in the third movement that might have sounded relatively straightforward even in performances by so rhetorical a violinist as Stern, take on shiny new meanings when played with Carmignola's subtly variegated bow strokes. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Fourth Concerto lies in how expressive the slow movement remains when Carmignola and Abbado play it at an unusually rapid tempo: Bach comes off well played on kazoos, and Mozart's music appears here to have similar durability, a point that hardly requires for its effectiveness that kazoos and Abbado's tempos be quite comparable. Carmignola also takes full advantage of the opportunity presented by the brief cadenza-like passage that leads from the unexpected slow entry of the violin in the Fifth Concerto into the main body of the movement. And it's surprising how much a quicker tempo and some seemingly improvised graces can add to a slow movement already celebrated for its pristine purity or how much room for excitement Mozart left in the finale's "Turkish" episode . . . [Carmignola] seems to meld easily with violist Danusha Waskiewicz, who shares his exuberant view of Mozart in the Sinfonia concertante -- and with Abbado, too, whose orchestra holds the stage briefly, as it does in the concertos, in fleeting but memorable concertante moments for the woodwinds. . . overall they've given riveting performances that stand at some distance from the mainstream, even from the mainstream as broadened by period practice and sonorities . . . Urgently recommended.

. . . [Abbado is] one of those rare conductors who grew and improved with age . . . the two soloists are perfectly matched stylistically and expressively; attacks are pungent and runs are sweeping . . . it is this new set that I'll be turning to from now on to clean out my ears, freshen up, and hear these Mozart concertos in a brand new and . . . exhilarating way.

It's a remarkably close-up series of recordings that even lets you catch his intakes of breath before particularly tricky phrases. There's much brightness in his performance . . .

There's always space for the expressive point, especially in the slow movement of the Sinfonia concertante, where flexibility of phrasing, rubato and vibrato come together to let us glimpse Mozart's perfection.

This is arguably the best-conducted "Sinfonia concertante" on disc, unsurpassed in its long-range vision and placing and timing of orchestral detail. No other conductor articulates so clearly the swirls of semiquavers in the violas and basses, or makes the slow-burn "crescendo" in the opening "tutti" [so elementally thrilling] . . . the first movement veers between high-voltage nervous intensity and a kind of edgy playfulness . . . [Waskiewicz] emerges as the more passive partner, she reacts sensitively to the impulsively inventive Carmignola, whether in the chaste sorrow of the "Andante" or the controlled delirium of the finale, where Abbado rightly allows the crucial oboes and horns their head.

Vital und fröhlich, mit vielen liebevoll von Carmignola ausmusizierten Details geht man hier zur Mozart-Sache . . .

Giuliano Carmignola . . . meistert die Gratwanderung stil-, ton- und farbsicher. Er entlockt seiner Stradivari "Baillot" eine Fülle von Details, auch mal ungewohnte rhythmische Akzente, die seiner Darstellung jeden Hauch von Routine nehmen. Seine Partnerin in der berückenden Sinfonia Concertante, die Bratschistin Danusha Waskiewicz, steht ihm da kaum nach. Routine ist auch dem 2004 von Claudio Abbado gegründeten Orchestra Mozart fremd . . . Wenn es an der schlank und transparent klingenden Doppel-CD etwas auszusetzen gibt, dann nur, dass gängige Zugaben wie das Adagio KV 261 oder die Rondos KV 269 und KV 373 fehlen.

Abbado ist ja eher spät zu Mozart gekommen; umso unbefangener und unverkrampfter gibt sich seine Annäherung. Giuliano Carmignola . . . vermag ein eigenes Licht auf Mozarts Musik zu werfen . . . Am frappantesten . . . sind die lebhaften Tempi -- da haben Carmignola und Abbados frisch-jugendliche Schar offenbar bald einen guten Draht gefunden . . . Das kleine Ereignis bei Carmignola/Abbado: gerade solche [langsamen] Passagen, weil in den farblichen Valeurs vielfältig abgestuft und zu intimster Verhaltenheit zurückgebunden, wirken durchaus besinnlich. Wundersame Gelöstheit tut sich kund.

Längst freilich hat er sich auch für diesen Komponisten zum Experten gemacht . . . Zu Recht sagen Verehrer dem Maestro nach, er habe mit dem Alter . . . nicht nur seine Reife untermauert, sonder sich auch seine Jugendlichkeit bewahrt. Die äußert sich, auf der Doppel-CD mit fünf Mozart-Symphonien, namentlich in zügigen Ecksätzen, forschen Anfangsimpulsen, sprudelnder Spritzigkeit. Klarheit, Abgeklärtheit, Tiefenwirkung, seine "Reife" also, bekundet Abbado in langsamen Sätzen voll schwebenden Zaubers und verhauchter Pianissimi . . . Carmignolas "apollinischer Klang" breitet die Werke in überdurchschnittlich straffen Tempi aus, doch nie übereilt und schon gar nicht verschludert. Anregend ausgearbeitet, spielerisch aufeinander bezogen finden sich alle Einzelheiten. "Romantik" lassen Dirigent, Ensemble und Solist nicht zu, erwecken aber immer wieder die Seele klassischen Geigenspiels: das Gesangliche, woraus es entspringt.

Dezentes Non-Vibrato, kurze Phrasierung, hervorragende Transparenz hier wie da. Statt auf große Linie ist Abbado auf die gestische Qualität der Motive bedacht, statt einfach abgestufter Dynamik setzt er auf fließende Übergänge vom hauchzarten Pianissimo bis zum beherzten Forteschlag . . . Unterm Strich wirkt das alles sehr ausgewogen, niemals forciert, und die Violinkonzert-Partnerschaft mit Giuliano Carmignola funktioniert bestens. Carmignolas leichter, farbiger Ton passt so gut zu Abbados Lesart der Konzerte, als hätten beide bisher nie in verschiedenen Welten musiziert.

Muss man Claudio Abbado noch rühmen . . . ? Nein, man muss nicht. Aber man will es immer wieder tun. Und den schönsten Anlass dazu bieten seine neuen Aufnahmen, die uns von der zutiefst verinnerlichten Musizierkunst Abbados künden. Abbado, dessen "Zauberflöte" die . . . wohl wunderbarste aller neueren Aufnahmen ist, widmet sich . . . Mozarts Sinfonie und seinen Violinkonzerten . . . Mozarts Sinfonie werden hier ganz ihrer repräsentativen Außenwirkung entkleidet, sie werden zur intimen Kammermusik, ja fast möchte man sagen, Abbado spielt Mozart wie Bach: vielstimmig und voll nobel verhaltener Expressivität, mit deutlich zurückgenommenen Lautstärkekontrasten.

Dezentes Non-Vibrato, kurze Phrasierung, hervorragende Transparenz hier wie da. Statt auf große Linie ist Abbado auf die gestische Qualität der Motive bedacht, statt einfach abgestufter Dynamik setzt er auf fließende Übergänge vom hauchzarten Pianissimo bis zum beherzten Forteschlag . . . Unterm Strich wirkt das alles sehr ausgewogen, niemals forciert, und die Violinkonzert-Partnerschaft mit Giuliano Carmignola funktioniert bestens. Carmignolas leichter, farbiger Ton passt so gut zu Abbados Lesart der Konzerte, als hätten beide bisher nie in verschiedenen Welten musiziert.

Ce qui surprend dans ce Mozart joué "sur les pointes", c'est son alliage de légèreté, de rapidité et de finesse (expressive, mais sonore aussi . . . Cette sensualité joueuse, cette fluidité esthétisante de la sonorité . . . possèdent un vrai panache artiste . . . Et les cadences sont magnifiques. A l'évidence, on entend ici le résultat d'une réflexion interprétative minutieuse, idéalement partagée par la superbe Danusha Waskiewicz dans la Symphonie concertante et, bien sûr, Claudio Abbado . . .