Yehudi Menuhin

Mozart: Violin Concertos Nos. 1-5; Sinfonia Concertante

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Despite his own exemplary skills on the instrument, Mozart's surprisingly few concertos for the violin, only five compared to the monumental 27 he wrote for the piano. The violin concertos also did now span Mozart's lifetime, instead being written in eight short months in 1775. The one exception turned out to be one of his most frequently performed and beloved concertos: the Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola that was not composed until 1779. Small numbers aside, the five violin concertos and indeed the Sinfonia concertante are gems of the repertoire and are filled with youthful frivolity and energy. This two-disc EMI set, originally recorded in the early '60s, remastered in 1990 and reissued here in 2002, features violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin. A brilliant child prodigy, Menuhin had some difficulty living up to the vitality of his playing in his younger years. Mozart is especially revealing when played without the utmost precision, lightness, and enthusiasm. In these respects, Menuhin falls short here. Throughout the two discs, Menuhin's vision for both the violin part as well as the orchestral accompaniment is somewhat weighty and romanticized. His right arm as crisp and precise as it once was, which results in the occasional sloppy string crossing and hazy articulation. Devout followers of Menuhin will still find this offering worthwhile, but other listeners many find it less than ideal.

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