The Strad Issue: January 2009
Musicians: Renaud Capuçon (violin) Antoine Tamestit (viola) Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Louis Langrée
Composer: Mozart

Here we have super-clean Mozart, immaculately executed by Renaud Capuçon and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO), joined in the Sinfonia concertante by the equally fastidious Antoine Tamestit. Capuçon is, in particular, to be complimented on his fast and tidy trills, and on the energy he brings to fast movements, which is particularly convincing in the outer movements of the first concerto. The SCO is equally effervescent, eliciting an exciting and compelling sound.

For me, however, there is something lacking in spite of all this and aside from the rather over-processed sound (which seems to exaggerate the dynamic peaks and is, for my taste, rather too resonant). We have come to expect an attitude of respectful restraint in how we play 18th-century music on modern instruments – reining back on post-Romantic excesses and supplanting it with accuracy and precision. Personally, I find these concertos do not quite plumb the depths of human experience, especially the slow movements, which aspire to Olympian status, but can, in fact, become a little tedious. Economical usage of vibrato is something one would expect a historical-performance specialist such as me to praise – and I would, were it not for the rather strident and shapeless sound that can disfigure some passages of the finale of K216 and indeed the Sinfonia concertante. There is much to commend this recording and I have tremendous admiration for the standard of musicianship. Ultimately, though, I would prefer performances that gave a little more insight into the ‘secret places’ in Mozart’s music.

David Milsom