Mozart: The complete works for violin and orchestra

Zsolt Kalló, Capella Savaria, Nicholas McGegan
127:49 (2 CDs in a jewel case)
Hungaroton HCD 32761-62

As a violinist (of sorts), I have always loved the concertos that Mozart wrote for the instrument; for many a year, my favourite recording has been the now-20-year-old AAM/Simon Standage set. In his review of that set, Richard Wigmore wrote in Gramophone:

“By the side of most modern-instrument performances Standage may initially seem cool and reserved, with a relatively narrow dynamic range. But his pure, slender tone (with vibrato reserved only for specific expressive effect), delicate, precise articulation and rhythmic subtlety make for fresh and inspiriting performances of music that has so often been drenched in an excess of opulence and sophistication.”

The present set is (to my ears, at least) a re-visiting of precisely those values, and the essence of HIP. Kalló’s style is very much in the Standage mould, albeit with a far wider dynamic range, while Capella Savaria’s larger, rounder tone reflects the advances that have been made in the intervening years with regards (particularly) to wind instruments. Of course, both sets are marvellous achievements. The new one is brightly recorded with a more generous acoustic than the earlier engineers managed; some of Kalló’s cadenzas are especially inventive, played with captivating precision and poise; the whole enterprise is infused with youthful excitement, and I have enjoyed listening to the two discs for hour after hour (when I ought perhaps to have listened to some other disks for review…) – when the music (and the music-making!) is this beautiful, it’s difficult to stop.

Brian Clark