The Strad Issue: September 2016
Description: A new ensemble meets with conspicuous success in Mozart and Schumann
Musicians: Sebastian Bohren (violin), Chaarts Chamber Artists
Composer: Beethoven, Mozart, Françaix, Schumann
Catalogue number: RCA RED SEAL 88985 31717-2
On this, his debut recording, the German violinist Sebastian Bohren brings out the feeling of even-tempered serenity that still distinguishes Beethoven’s Concerto. Bohren’s playing is classically contained, though coloured by a wider vibrato than the period-flavour unconducted chamber orchestra behind him. I miss a precisely gauged sense of scale to this most expansive of violin concertos: the peaks of the huge opening Allegro are all much the same height, and few depths are plumbed by the G minor meditation at the heart of the movement or the sweetly sung if not infallibly tuned Larghetto.
The performance really takes off in the finale, with levels of adrenalin carried through to the Schumann Phantasie, which is enjoying a welcome renaissance on disc. Here the absence of a directorial guiding hand is less keenly felt, and Bohren uncovers a more playful, less neurotic side to this late work than Thomas Zehetmair or Patricia Kopatchinskaja (both reviewed in the June issue). He leaves the stage to the Chaarts Chamber Artists for Jean Françaix’s nonet arrangement of Mozart’s K452 Quintet. This is a real charmer, done with graceful phrasing, sensuously blended tone and plenty of individual ideas that bloom in the airy acoustic of a Swiss radio recording.