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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early Mozart concertos played correctly in style and in good sound, 13 Aug. 2013
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mozart: The Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
This pair of discs from 1991 is very well recorded and is a model of lively playing but with the restraint appropriate to early Mozart and the early Classical period.

When considering these concertos it is therefore important to remember that the Classical period, as with architecture or paintings, was a direct reaction against the perceived excesses of the previous Baroque period. It is also important to remember that these are more of the Haydn end of the period rather than late Beethoven so any form of early Romanticism, such as in Mendelssohn, is equally inappropriate.

Mozart, as a violinist, made two comments worth quoting in these regards as follows: 'You know that I am no lover of difficulties' and when describing his satisfaction at a particular performance he remarked ' it went as smoothly as oil.' Violinists who specialise in the Baroque period and who now turn their attention to Mozart can often fall into the trap of playing in just the way that Mozart was reacting against (the virtuosity of Locatelli or Viotti for instance), by making his music too full of incident and drama. Violinists who play the Romantics from Mendelssohn onwards can impose ways of thinking not yet considered by the very youthful Mozart who was still very much under the influence of Haydn.

All of this is very much understood by Standage, Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music who deliver correctly stylish performances with impeccable technical assurance. In addition to the concertos the discs also include two rondos and an additional adagio.

I would suggest that these are very fine and correctly proportioned recordings of these works and deserve serious consideration as good 'period' performances. For those wishing to purchase the music in the same style but played on modern instruments I would suggest that the versions by Lin and Pamela Frank are good alternatives and are both available at moderate prices.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Undemonstratively classical but excessively pallid, 3 Feb. 2009
Jon Chambers (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mozart: The Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
With the arrival of Giuliano Carmignola's new Archiv version of these concertos (July 2008), it is time for some reappraisal. How does this 1990 recording by Simon Standage fare in comparison? There is precious little to choose between them in terms of price, and Standage is always worth taking into account, especially if, like me, you feel that the other contenders - Anne-Sophie Mutter et al - create a sound that is too warm and 'Romantic'.

Although Standage is admirably restrained here, his tone being undemonstratively cool, the presentation of these youthful pieces does seem to lack a certain energy and dynamism. The AAM under Christopher Hogwood, while proving as competent as ever, offer little to relieve the sensation of anaemia. The overall effect is too unadventurous, too muted, too pallid. The cadenza of Concerto 4's Rondeau features a provocative little slide while that of Concerto 3 has arabesques elaborating over the orchestra's refrain. Such injections of colour, however, are too rare.

Generally, the cadenzas are lacklustre - and the booklet doesn't help by omitting to identify them. Its brief notes do, however, provide a quotation from a letter by Wolfgang to Leopold: 'You know I am no lover of difficulties.' (This, presumably, to justify the restrained, un-pyrotechnical performance style.) Ultimately and unfortunately, we've no way of knowing exactly whose style or tempi their composer would have preferred, or even whether he would have advocated original or modern instruments. One thing is questionable, however: in what sense is a violin made in 1987 'authentic'? Modelled on a violin by Stradivarius - 'The Dancla' of 1703, apparently - one wonders just how close a match the new version is to the old in terms of its essential quality: sound.

So times move on. Although I could easily live with these performances by an outstanding violinist, Carmignola's new CD would have to be the recommendation - especially so given its 'bonus' material, the wonderfully dramatic Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, K364.
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Mozart: The Violin Concertos
Mozart: The Violin Concertos by Simon Standage (Audio CD - 1997)
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