Rachel Podger / Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante; Haydn: Violin Concerti 1 & 4

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Violinist Rachel Podger has secured a name for herself as a master interpreter and performer of all things Baroque and early Classical. Her recent recordings of the complete Mozart violin sonatas thrust her career forward from her already prestigious beginnings as a member of the Palladian Ensemble and Florilegium. This Channel Classics album finds Podger in front of the innovative Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment performing two Haydn concertos written during his time in the employ of the Esterházy family, as well as the instantly recognizable Mozart Sinfonia Concertante. Written for Luigi Tomasini, the concertmaster of the Esterházy Court Chapel, the two concertos are filled with dazzling pyrotechnic displays and soulful, sustained melodies, characteristics that play to Podger's strengths. Any hints of stuffiness or rigidity conjured up when thinking of period instrument performances are at once dispelled with Podger's vitally enthusiastic but well-controlled approach to her instrument. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment likewise focuses on spontaneity, vibrancy, and beauty of tone. Joined by violist Pavlo Beznosiuk, the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante is treated with similar energy and excitement. A change of instrument, bow, and strings results in a warmer, more hushed tone from Podger that provides a nice contrast to the brightness heard in the Haydn. Keen listeners will also notice that the viola is tuned a half-step higher than usual, which was indicated in Mozart's original score. The result here is a brighter, more clearly projecting instrument.

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