Gidon Kremer / Kremerata Baltica

Mozart: The Complete Violin Concertos

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This two-disc Nonesuch set of Mozart's violin concertos performed by Gidon Kremer and KREMERata BALTICA at the Salzburg Festival has many things going for it. It's vastly better than Kremer's previous recording of the works on Deutsche Grammophon, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Not only does the soloist appear more involved with the music, but the conductor in the Nonesuch set, Kremer himself, appears to have much more consideration for the soloist than the conductor in the DG set. Kremer clearly loves Mozart's concertos and he lavishes all his talent and technique on the works. With the nearly telepathic accompaniment of KREMERata BALTICA, Kremer's performances receive superlative support of impressive style and substance. However, despite their undeniable excellences, these performances are so manifestly lacking in one essential Mozartian quality that it is hard to recommend them. That quality is elegance,and search as one might, one won't find it here. Lines are polished, harmonies balanced, and rhythms refined, but these performances don't sing, don't soar, and don't have the ineffable sense of heaven-sent grace that informs the great performances of these pieces by such masters as Arthur Grumiaux on his irreplaceable recordings with Colin Davis. Also, Kremer is still using Robert Levin's cadenzas, which are not altogether in the style of the composer. While these are generally fine performances, because of the quality of the competition, they should be of interest primarily to dedicated Kremer fans. Nonesuch's live sound is vivid and very evocative.

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