Experiencing the Australian Chamber Orchestra and their leader Richard Tognetti in concert has been described in The Times as 'like taking a swig of a vitamin drink'. This is the first of two discs on BIS of Mozart's violin concertos. Contributing to this is the fact that the strings (both soloist and orchestra) play on gut strings, while the wind players perform on replicas of instruments from Mozart's time.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra and its enterprising leader, violinist Richard Tognetti, wade with these popular Mozart works into a field with plenty of competition, and the results, as usual with this popular group, range from good to superb. The performances are generally oriented toward historical practice; the string players use gut strings, tuned slightly below modern concert pitch, and the oboes and horns are historically appropriate instruments. In general matters of attack and phrasing, the players do not diverge too far from modern practice, and Tognetti, in his own notes (in English, German, and French), points out that even if treatises of the period laid down certain procedures in regard to these matters, the notoriously capricious Mozart might well have done something completely different.
At the ripe old age of 19 Mozart wrote five violin concertos, and they represent his coming of age as a composer of orchestral music. From here on, it's basically one masterpiece after another. Though not difficult works, technically speaking, they partake in full measure of Mozart's uniquely sensual brand of melody. That means that successful performances must know how to spin out a singing musical line, while at the same time making the most of the rare opportunities for soloistic display.
If this is the future of Mozart performance practice, the future is secure. The combination of period instrument violinist Giuliano Carmignola and modern instrument conductor Claudio Abbado leading the youthful period instrument Orchestra Mozart produces something new under the sun: a hybrid of both approaches that takes the best from both and creates something fresh and shining. Carmignola, the leader of Venice's Teatro La Fenice and one of Italy's best period violinists, has a focused tone, a lively sense of rhythm, and a wonderful feeling for line and color.