Viktoria Mullova, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique,
John Eliot Gardiner – Beethoven & Mendelssohn Violin Concertos (2003)
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Viktoria Mullova and John Eliot Gardiner: Mullova, a strong-toned, intense, and very virtuosic Russian violinist living in the West, an individualist without a trace of idiosyncrasy and a expressivist without a trace of sentimentality, and Gardiner, a superb proponent of period instruments who’s out of his depths with passionate expressivity, an excellent exponent of Handel and Bach who’s over his head with Beethoven or Berlioz, a conducting collection of idiosyncrasies passing himself off as an interpreter and an amateur passing himself off as an individualist.
Interesting this, on a number of counts. Viktoria Mullova brings quite different qualities to bear on both works, chaste and unruffled in Beethoven, more demonstrably romantic in Mendelssohn, her vibrato marginally more intense and with subtly negotiated slides. Sir John Eliot Gardener is an attentive collaborator who in Beethoven’s first movement points up contrasts between a flowing legato and the forceful stamping of the timpani-inspired main idea, and lends added animation to various scale-like ascending passages. Ottavio Dantone provides flamboyant cadenzas, and the sum effect is of a considered, breathing encounter between the epic and the intimate, the full tutti tower blocks spasmodically dominating an otherwise serene landscape. In Mendelssohn’s Concerto much thought has gone into fashioning the finale, taken at a leisurely tempo and with the orchestra audibly appropriating and distributing elements of the soloist’s opening phrase. Few performances make such a gripping feature of the movement’s dialogue element and Mullova again bows a bright, mercurial solo line. Gardiner takes Mendelssohn at his word in stressing the first movement’s Allegro molto appassionato, not by pushing the tempo (which he never does) but by applying precisely the right degree of weight and pressure to key tutti – much aided, incidentally, by the lowered pitch.
01. Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto In D, Op.61 – I. Allegro ma non troppo
02. Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto In D, Op.61 – II. Larghetto –
03. Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto In D, Op.61 – III. Rondo
04. Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64 – I. Allegro molto appassionato
05. Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64 – II. Andante
06. Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64 – III. Allegretto non troppo / Allegro molto vivace
Viktoria Mullova – violin
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique – Conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.