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Gil Shaham|Mozart: Violin Concertos

Mozart: Violin Concertos

Gil Shaham, SWR Symphonieorchester, Nicholas McGegan

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Mozart may have only produced five violin concertos to his 27 piano concertos and 41 symphonies, but not a single one of these early-career works written in his late teens feels anything less than perfectly wrought, or betraying for the merest second his utter frustration at being pinned down as concertmaster in Archbishop Colloredo’s Salzburg court orchestra – his "day job" from 1769 aged 13 through to 1777, but a position he viewed as a dead-end one in comparison to the taster he’d already had of taking Europe by storm as a touring piano virtuoso.

So while there are more interesting ways of programming these works than simply all together as a library-building set, they do undoubtedly still make for a great listen as such, and here they’re joined by two concertante works Mozart composed for his successor in that post, Antonio Brunetti: the Adagio for Violin and Orchestra in E major, K. 261, written in 1777 apparently to replace a slow movement Brunetti considered "too sophisticated" (possibly Concerto No. 5 K. 219, given the key fits), then the Rondo in C major K. 373, which appears to have premiered in 1781 and thus stands as his final completed contribution to the violin concerto medium.

These are eminently elegant and tasteful readings. Shaham’s tone is one of lithe silver filigree sweetness, and the cadenzas (presumably his own, although there’s no mention of that in the notes) are both highly idiomatic and ear-catching. The SWR under McGegan meanwhile are abounding in period-aware, feather-light grace. In fact the sheer delicacy of these readings is very much a chief selling point, one especially striking instance of which is in No. 3’s Adagio, for the sudden super-pronounced, dreamy pianissimo softness with which its closing measures are delivered. The dialogue between soloist and orchestra is also unfailingly close.

The billion-dollar question, though, is whether they still emerge as frontrunners in what is already a crowded market for Mozart violin concerto sets, and ultimately for this particular critic they don’t quite supplant the glowing exuberance and crisp elegance heard on Isabelle Faust’s period readings with Giovanni Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico. Still, dedicated fans of Shaham and McGegan need not hesitate. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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Mozart: Violin Concertos

Gil Shaham

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Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Major, K. 207 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

1
I. Allegro moderato
00:06:51

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

2
II. Adagio
00:07:32

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

3
III. Presto
00:05:19

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216 "Strassburg" (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

4
I. Allegro
00:09:23

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

5
II. Adagio
00:08:24

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

6
III. Rondeau. Allegro
00:06:30

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

7
I. Allegro
00:08:52

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

8
II. Andante cantabile
00:07:21

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

9
III. Rondeau. Andante grazioso
00:06:50

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

DISC 2

Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major, K. 211 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

1
I. Allegro moderato
00:07:56

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

2
II. Andante
00:06:09

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

3
III. Rondeau. Allegro
00:04:03

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

Adagio in E Major for Violin & Orchestra, K. 261 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

4
Adagio in E Major for Violin & Orchestra, K. 261
00:07:07

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 "Turkish" (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

5
I. Allegro aperto
00:09:27

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

6
II. Adagio
00:10:16

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

7
III. Rondeau. Tempo di menuetto
00:08:47

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

Rondo in C Major for Violin & Orchestra, K. 373 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

8
Rondo in C Major for Violin & Orchestra, K. 373
00:05:05

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer - Nicholas McGegan, Conductor, MainArtist - Gil Shaham, Artist, MainArtist - SWR Symphonieorchester, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2022 SWR Classic (P) 2022 SWR Classic

Album Description

Mozart may have only produced five violin concertos to his 27 piano concertos and 41 symphonies, but not a single one of these early-career works written in his late teens feels anything less than perfectly wrought, or betraying for the merest second his utter frustration at being pinned down as concertmaster in Archbishop Colloredo’s Salzburg court orchestra – his "day job" from 1769 aged 13 through to 1777, but a position he viewed as a dead-end one in comparison to the taster he’d already had of taking Europe by storm as a touring piano virtuoso.

So while there are more interesting ways of programming these works than simply all together as a library-building set, they do undoubtedly still make for a great listen as such, and here they’re joined by two concertante works Mozart composed for his successor in that post, Antonio Brunetti: the Adagio for Violin and Orchestra in E major, K. 261, written in 1777 apparently to replace a slow movement Brunetti considered "too sophisticated" (possibly Concerto No. 5 K. 219, given the key fits), then the Rondo in C major K. 373, which appears to have premiered in 1781 and thus stands as his final completed contribution to the violin concerto medium.

These are eminently elegant and tasteful readings. Shaham’s tone is one of lithe silver filigree sweetness, and the cadenzas (presumably his own, although there’s no mention of that in the notes) are both highly idiomatic and ear-catching. The SWR under McGegan meanwhile are abounding in period-aware, feather-light grace. In fact the sheer delicacy of these readings is very much a chief selling point, one especially striking instance of which is in No. 3’s Adagio, for the sudden super-pronounced, dreamy pianissimo softness with which its closing measures are delivered. The dialogue between soloist and orchestra is also unfailingly close.

The billion-dollar question, though, is whether they still emerge as frontrunners in what is already a crowded market for Mozart violin concerto sets, and ultimately for this particular critic they don’t quite supplant the glowing exuberance and crisp elegance heard on Isabelle Faust’s period readings with Giovanni Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico. Still, dedicated fans of Shaham and McGegan need not hesitate. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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