The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: The second and concluding part of a refined Mozart concerto cycle
Musicians: Richard Tognetti (violin/director) Australian Chamber Orchestra
Composer: Mozart

The Australian Chamber Orchestra has a justly renowned reputation, particularly in its years under Sydney Conservatorium-trained Richard Tognetti, the group’s concertmaster since 1989. These are neatly sculpted performances, with lively tempos, incisive phrasing and sparkling playing from Tognetti himself, especially in the cadenzas in the first movements of concerts nos.2 and 4. The first movement of K207 gets the disc off to a good start with tidy solo and orchestral playing, reined-in modern gestures and precise, small-scale phrasing. Slow movements are taken at a good pace, such as the Andante cantabile of K218, and there is a sense of freshness – in the whimsical performance of the Adagio in E major K261, for instance – while the technical prowess on display is superb.

Nonetheless, Tognetti’s period-performance caveats in his booklet notes suggest perhaps protesting a little too much. While there is much we will never know about Mozart performance, we can be a little more certain than he seems to suggest. Occasional lapses into a purely modern vibrato (as in K371) imply a degree of aesthetic unease at this attempt to evoke Mozart’s sonorities. What is good about this disc, however, is its avoidance of academicism and as such, this is a lively, tidily recorded and enticing release.

David Milsom