MOZART Violin Concertos Nos 3 - 5
In the booklet accompanying this issue, Arabella Steinbacher writes: ‘These concertos have been with me since early childhood…I feel they are very close to my heart.’ Anybody tempted to dismiss this as a marketing ploy will soon change their minds on listening to these performances – they really do give the impression of a project backed by an unusual degree of sympathetic understanding.
Steinbacher has a way of searching out what gives each passage, each phrase, its individuality, getting it to speak to us through slight changes in dynamic or emphasis. Nothing is forced: the quick movements are fast enough for the passagework to sound brilliant but always with space for elegant shaping. The Lucerne Festival Strings are a small enough body to allow even accompanying lines to be played in a positive, lively manner (notice the variants in the support the violins give to the returns of the rondo theme in K216’s finale). A top-class recording enhances the sensation of keen participation. Steinbacher finds her sweetest tone for the slow movements; elsewhere, there’s a strong awareness of the sense of fun that pervades many parts of these youthful masterpieces. And she finds an extra injection of fire for the Turkish episode in K219’s finale.
The purist in me noticed occasional over-smooth articulation and, at the other extreme, very short spiccato bow strokes (in the finale of K218, for example). But these are minor issues, within these highly individual, deeply satisfying accounts.