Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova has technique to burn. There are few violinists who match her intuitive sense of the middle of the pitch or the delicacy of her phrasing. She is well regarded for her impeccable performances and passion for Baroque music: she is also sought after for premieres of new music. It is this combination of talents that make her approach to the two concerti on this CD most memorable.
Elegant in stage deportment with never a moment of extraneous 'showmanship', Mullova is immediately at one with the music and never leaves that presence - as observed in her recent performance of the Beethoven concerto with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic: the two artists see this concerto eye to eye and the result is a fresh interpretation that is all quintessential elegance. On this recording she collaborates well with John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique - the same sense of the delicate and precise, immaculate reading is intact. Mullova uses the cadenzas written by Ottavio Dantone and she is able to find every moment of the variations of the themes without submerging them in the tricky 'accompaniments' for which Dantone is famous. The result is a light, precise, airy Beethoven that has its own quality of drama in Mullova's consistent understatement.
The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor paired with the Beethoven is one of the finest performances recorded. Mullova's approach (very much influenced by her passion for Baroque) serves this work well and the support from Gardiner is completely in agreement. An excellent recording. Grady Harp, April 07
on October 23, 2011
I have the Perlman/Giulini, the Kremer/Harnoncourt, the Repin/Muti and the Mullova/Gardiner versions of this work. All are decent performances but what sets the Mullova work apart is the transparency and delicacy of the orchestra behind her. This work, to me, is done in the same spirit Beethoven had for his pastoral symphony.....it is more of a feminine work, it is to be handled delicately with not a lot of vibrato but pure and delicate. Don't get me wrong, when called for the piece has plenty of punch. I'm not sure but I guess that Gardiner is using period instruments which come through much clearer that the other offerings, for sure I hear instruments in this work that I don't hear in the other recordings. As I said about the Schumann piano concerto by Staier and Herreweghe, if you're allowed just one recording of this piece the Mullova/Gardiner is the one to get.
on February 28, 2014
Let me start by saying that Viktoria Mullova, together with John Eliot Gardiner and his ORR, have created extraordinary performances of these two great violin concertos. We are told that both Mullova and Gardiner, after consulting the original scores decided to incorporate alternative or original readings in their interpretations, and I must say it was time well spent, as they have added another dimension to these great works and nowhere are they disruptive, but rather cohesively deepen what we have heard from others in the past.
HOWEVER, I would be remiss not to agree completely with a certain "Susan Scheibner" who states in her Amazon review of the "red book" cd version of this disc that the engineers have adopted a DYNAMIC RANGE for this recording (to make it seem more realistic?) that makes it instead very difficult to even listen to the music at all, because the mix adopted means that to hear Mullova well playing solo, means that when the entire orchestra comes in ff or more, the music is so loud, the volume control has to be turned down quickly before your neighbor has you evicted, and at the next violin solo, you have to reverse the process, or you practically can't Mullova at all!
Although I only listened to the SACD version (where the surround sound was terrific), and which I imagine did attenuate the problem somewhat, but I regret to say I was still aware of the considerable discrepancy between the sound levels of the violin and the orchestra.
I'm so sad about this "dynamic range" problem, for it is the only thing which forces my giving this SACD just 4-stars, instead of the 5-Star it deserves!
on August 3, 2005
I truly have to admit that this particular record blew me away. I wasn't a true fan of Beethoven violin concerto, but this sort of performance,sound and ambience makes it truly amazing. The Mendelssohn one is one to hear, and to recognize as one of the best, if not THE best.