Julia Fischer / Gordan Nikolic / Yakov Kreizberg

Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante

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German violinist Julia Fischer, 24 years old when this recording was released, is surely a bright new star, all charisma as her diminutive self stands between conductor and collaborator Yakov Kreizberg and violist Gordan Nikolic on the cover of this disc. She has a steely technique that she brings to Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K. 364 -- not a steely work, but the musicianship here is superb. Fischer and Nikolic make an attractive pair in the work, her razor-sharp tone set against his gutsier sound production, all the contrasts held together by Kreizberg's brisk tempos and no-nonsense forward drive. There are recordings of the Sinfonia Concertante that play more directly to sentiment, but the work's intricate architecture breathes in this interpretation. An additional bonus is the inclusion of the rarely heard Concertone in C major for two violins and orchestra, K. 190, a work that also has solo oboe and cello parts and seems to hang in the balance between the concerto and sinfonia concerante (multiple-soloist) genres. The performers bring a nice lilting quality to the first two movements, rather sprawling creations of the young Mozart that demand really compelling soloists of the sort on display here. The only complaint is over-resonant sound, the result of PentaTone's decision to record in a Haarlem church -- the wrong place for music intended for a medium-sized, crowded, well-upholstered room. It destroys the intimate scale of the performance and causes the soloists and the harpsichord continuo of the Concertone, especially, to sound a bit like they are swimming in a watery chamber. The clarity of Fischer's playing, however, is not compromised, and it's a real wonder. She has also recorded two of Mozart's solo violin concertos with the same forces, but this disc in a way suggests even greater talents.

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