Shlomo Mintz

Mozart: The Five Violin Concertos; Sinfonia Concertante; Concertone

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Since Shlomo Mintz's approach to playing and conducting Mozart is far from dogmatic, but rather flexible and open to change, his renditions on this fine three-disc set of the Violin Concertos, K. 207, 211, 216, 218, and 219; the Concertone, K. 190; and the Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364, are a bit of a compromise between opposing interpretive schools. Partisans of authentic performances on period instruments may balk at Mintz's modern-instrument readings with the English Chamber Orchestra, yet hardline Romantics may find the solo playing too transparent and the ensemble too lithe and pared-down to suit their tastes. Everyone else in the middle, though, will find that Mintz and the ECO have struck an agreeable balance that is perhaps most appealing for avoiding extremes of rigidness or lushness. On violin in all the works except K. 364, where he plays viola, Mintz is resonant and warm, but always clear, and his expressive lines are always tastefully controlled. Hagai Shaham, as violinist in the Sinfonia Concertante, provides a contrast in his bright tone and scintillating embellishments that works well with Mintz's richer sonorities. Note especially their affecting duo in the Andante of that work, perhaps the most rewarding music-making of the set. Avie's sound quality is splendid.

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