At the ripe old age of 19 Mozart wrote five violin concertos, and they represent his coming of age as a composer of orchestral music. From here on, it's basically one masterpiece after another. Though not difficult works, technically speaking, they partake in full measure of Mozart's uniquely sensual brand of melody. That means that successful performances must know how to spin out a singing musical line, while at the same time making the most of the rare opportunities for soloistic display.
The greatest of Mozart's wind serenades and the toughest of Alban Berg's major works might seem an unlikely pairing, but in an interview included with the sleeve notes for this release, Pierre Boulez points up their similarities. Both works are scored for an ensemble of 13 wind instruments (with solo violin and piano as well in the Berg) and both include large-scale variations as one of their movements - and Boulez makes the comparisons plausible enough in these lucid performances. It's rare to hear him conducting Mozart, too, and if the performance is a little brisker and more strait-laced than ideal, the EIC's phrasing is a model of clarity and good taste. It's the performance of the Berg, though, that makes this such an important issue; both soloists, Mitsuko Uchida and Christian Tetzlaff, are perfectly attuned to Boulez's approach - they have given a number of performances of the Chamber Concerto before - and the combination of accuracy and textural clarity with the highly wrought expressiveness that is the essence of Berg's music is perfectly caught.
Daniel Barenboim looks indeterminate in age in the cover photo of this release and nothing else tells the buyer that these are historical performances, recorded in 1970 and never before release. One of them, the Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488, is live; the other is an analog studio recording. Nothing in the booklet (in German, English, and French) explains how these recordings happened to languish in the vaults for four decades and then resurface. Yet none of this affects the product, which is very fine.
40 CD box set featuring concerts, quartets, divertimenti, symphonies, arias, opera scenes, famous overtures, sonatas and so much more.
Mozart 250th Anniversary Edition: Complete Sacred Music by Harnoncourt / Mozart / Vienna Concentus Musicus was released Sep 19, 2005 on the Warner Classics label. Mozart 250th Anniversary Edition: Complete Sacred Music is a 13-disc set.