The name of Martha Argerich on any label always means fire, and so it is here. She and Gidon Kremer play with quite exceptional urgency and temperament, and the bright, clear recording brings up both instruments with a sheen. In fact the music springs at you with such immediacy that anyone previously of the opinion that Schumann was showing signs of tiredness in these latish works will be compelled to think again.
Composed over wide time intervals, Hans Werner Henze's three Violin Concertos represent key stages of his development, and mark his early efforts in twelve-tone composition, his mature phase of experimental political theater, and his late, emotionally charged programmatic style. The Concerto No. 1 (1948) is similar in some respects to Alban Berg's Violin Concerto, particularly in Henze's blending of the row with tonal features; yet in its comparative leanness and transparency, this piece is less like Berg than the complex Concerto No. 3 (1997), which, in its intense evocation of Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus, shares much more of the passionate and disturbing colors and textures of Wozzeck or Lulu.
Frank Peter Zimmermann is an excellent violinist, and an ideal Mozart interpreter. His rhythms are clean and crisp, his ornamentation appropriate, his vibrato always tasteful and expressive, and the tempos he and conductor Radoslaw Szulc adopt well-nigh ideal. Indeed, Mozart seems to represent the dividing line between successful historically informed and modern violin performance, with the former usually sounding dismal and the latter almost invariably proving satisfactory, at a minimum. This is ironic because, as we know, Mozart’s dad wrote the major 18th-century treatise on violin playing, and it’s amusing to hear performances that claim to follow Leopold’s rules come out sounding like dreck, as they so often do.