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Violin concertos no. 3 and 5 (sound…

Violin concertos no. 3 and 5 (sound recording)

by W.A. Mozart

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 3 in G major, K. 216
[1] I. Allegro
[2] II. Adagio
[3] III. Rondeau. Allegro

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 5 in A major, K. 219 [31'06]
[4] I. Allegro aperto
[5] II. Adagio
[6] III. Rondeau. Tempo di Menuetto

Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

Recorded: 2/1978, Philharmonie, Berlin.

Deutsche Grammophon, 1999. The Originals. 58’31. Liner notes by Bernhard Uske.


The cover doesn’t lie. Anne-Sophie was 14 when she recorded these concertos (and Mozart was 19 when he composed them, for that matter). She had been “discovered” two years before by the 55-years-older Karajan and had played the Third Concerto with him at the Salzburg Easter Festival in 1977. It was the beginning of Karajan’s most fruitful relationship with an instrumental soloist. Consider this brief discography of Anne-Sophie and Herbie (all studio and CD unless otherwise noted):

1978 – Mozart – Violin Concertos Nos. 3 & 5;
1979 – Beethoven – Violin Concerto & Triple Concerto (with Ma and Zeltser);
1980 – Bruch – Violin Concerto No. 1;
1980 – Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto;
1981 – Massenet – Meditation;
1981 – Brahms – Violin Concerto;
1983 – Brahms – Double Concerto (with Meneses);
1984 – Bach – Violin Concerto, BWV 1042 (Live, DVD);
1984 – Beethoven – Violin Concerto (DVD);
1984 – Vivaldi – The Four Seasons;
1987 – Vivaldi – The Four Seasons (Live, DVD);
1988 – Tchaikovsky – Violin Concerto (Live).

This is virtually Karajan’s complete repertoire for violin and orchestra, and then some. Bruch, Mendelssohn and Mozart’s charming if somewhat derivative Third Concerto are his only recordings. Much of the rest (Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms), as well as some works missing here (Sibelius, Bach BWV 1041 & 1043), he had recorded with Christian Ferras in the 1960s. His only other studio rendition of Mozart’s sublime Fifth Concerto is a rare 1966 film with Yehudi Menuhin. Even taking into account the superb accounts of The Four Seasons (1972) and “Meditation” (1967) with Michel Schwalbé, the legendary concertmaster of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the point remains that Karajan was more willing to cover the repertoire for violin and orchestra with Anne-Sophie than with anybody else.

Now, these recordings are somewhat breathless here and there, as befit the age of the soloist, but there is no mindless rushing or foolish bravado that often ruins youngsters, be they pianists, violinists or singers, who try to make their mark. Mozart is anyway the wrong composer for that, but even he has not escaped adolescent butchery. Just a few years later Anne-Sophie might (or might not) have played better these concertos, in a warmer and more lyrical way, but this is not to say these are poor performances. Tenser than usual, perhaps; but still compelling. Karajan has no such problems, of course. Listening to his flawless accompaniment, you might think he conducted those concertos all his life. Sometimes he all but steals the show. The stormy middle section in the Fifth Concerto’s finale is particularly notable. Those howling strings are quite something to hear, aren’t they?

The late analogue sound unfortunately brings to mind the brittle harshness of early digital recordings (classic example: the Mendelssohn and Bruch which Mutter and Karajan recorded in 1980), but fortunately (for your ears) it is better than that. Herr Uske’s liner notes are dispensable save for a few bits of biography. The cover photo by the redoubtable Siegfried Lauterwasser is a special, and superb, bonus. Despite her tender age, Anne-Sophie doesn’t seem at all intimidated by the legendary Maestro who, for his part, seems genuinely happy to work with her. No wonder, with the benefit of hindsight, their musical relationship developed so well. ( )
  Waldstein | Oct 10, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mozart, W.A.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berlin PhilharmonicOrchestrasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Levine, JamesConductorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mutter, Anne-SophiePerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perlman, ItzhakPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraOrchestrasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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