This release by the Canadian sibling duo of Lara and Scott St. John backs off further from Lara's classical bad-girl image and extends her classical-indie credibility. One of the first classical artists to promote the download medium, she has charted her own artistic path with some success. Here she and her older brother join with a small New York orchestral ensemble called The Knights, a self-proclaimed "fellowship of adventurous musicians who creatively engage audiences in the shared joy of musical performance." The booklet, in English, French, and German, opens with a somewhat bizarre effort to tie Mozart to the Order of St. John, with which he had a few glancing encounters mostly early in life. What this is supposed to mean and what possible significance this might have beyond a mere coincidence of surname is only hazily expressed and not very convincing (in the Sinfonia concertante in E flat major, K. 364, you learn, "Mozart generously casts his two soloists as equals," and this is supposedly reflective of Masonic egalitarian ideals, the Masons being a group with tenuous connections to the Order). It's nuts. The good news is that these are lively performances of some Mozart string concertos. The Knights are the real standouts. Under conductor Eric Jacobsen they offer quick tempos in the outer movements, with a flexible, spontaneous feel that suggests the dialogue of a string quartet. The St. John siblings, together and separately (Scott is heard in the Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat major, K. 207, and Lara in the Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216), match the group with light playing that stretches out phrase ends into sweet touches without breaking the momentum. The two earlier solo concertos are more persuasive than the Sinfonia concertante, where the long lines of the music aren't quite under control. The bottom line is that these are above-average Mozart concerto recordings, recommended especially for those whose tastes run to the youthful and fresh. The Super Audio surround sound is a plus.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sinfonia Concertante for violin & viola in E flat major, K. 364|
|Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat major, K. 207|
|Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216|