Favorite Mozart Interpreters?

March 4, 2019, 8:39 AM · Who do you think interprets the Mozart concerti really well? And why? My son is filling in a gap (he never played #3 shockingly enough) and I would like to show him a variety of excellent interpretations.

Replies (30)

March 4, 2019, 8:58 AM · Can't really help - Grumiaux is all I've got.
March 4, 2019, 1:02 PM · Jascha Heifetz & Oscar Shumsky.
March 4, 2019, 1:10 PM · Oistrakh, Grumiaux, Goldberg.
March 4, 2019, 1:18 PM · The Isabelle Faust recordings with Il Giardino Armonico are fantastic!
March 4, 2019, 1:44 PM · For no 3 specifically my favourite (and my favourite of any Mozart concerto recording I've ever heard) is the old Oistrakh/Ancerl recording - available as a download from Qobuz, or in various incarnations on CD (at various prices). For No 4, Josef Suk - orchestra and conductor escapes me at the moment. For the rest I don't know - I enjoy Suk's performances of them all but I don't really have any comparisons.
March 4, 2019, 3:16 PM · Definitely Grumiaux
March 4, 2019, 3:18 PM · has he listened to or watched any of Mozart's operas?
March 4, 2019, 3:31 PM · Irene Chen, that is a great suggestion. He's listened to several but never watched one.
March 4, 2019, 5:28 PM · Hilary Hahn [ducks for cover]

No but seriously I haven't actually figured out what she does with her right hand, but she seems to be able to hold notes and connect bows for longer and more accurately than anybody else even at equal tempos.

Edited: March 4, 2019, 8:42 PM · I have to laugh every time I see a thread like this because I wonder how it really helps anyone. The answers are so predictable. Honestly there have been so many recordings of the Mozart concertos that you can just log into your streaming service or look on YouTube and there will be plenty to choose from. Just listen for yourself and decide what you like. I like Josh Bell's Mozart 3! I especially love his first-movement cadenza with the suspended arpeggio. That doesn't mean I don't like other recordings. I like Heifetz just as much as the next guy. Well ... maybe not as much as Nate does. :)
March 5, 2019, 7:31 AM · Paul Deck, he's done exactly that, but he is trying to learn more appropriate performance practice as opposed to just what he likes. I was hoping someone would have some secretly amazing interpreter of galant performance practice....
March 5, 2019, 7:31 AM · Paul's point is a good one. We all have our favorites, but you should listen to as many as possible simply because they all have their own approaches to Mozart. None is "right" in any real sense.
March 5, 2019, 8:11 AM · I did some listening yesterday and I really liked Huberman for Mozart 3.
March 5, 2019, 8:35 AM · I always felt Heifetz recording of Mozart concertos sorta sucked - too Russian (at least the LP I bought back in 1973). That kind of busted the "Heifetz-God trance" I had maintained since seeing him in the movie "They Shall Have Music" in 1939. He almost became human again!
March 5, 2019, 9:16 AM · I agree with Paul and Tom.
I'd especially recommend Grumiaux, Isabelle Faust and Giuliano Carmignola.
March 5, 2019, 9:55 AM · I like Heifetz playing Mozart 5. Haven't heard others but I imagine those wouldn't be his best fit. I don't love his Beethoven either, but he's still a demi god. I also like some Mozart chamber music I've heard him play.
March 5, 2019, 12:37 PM · All the latest HIP people, but often they are not my favorites at all (no offense, I do like some HIP).

Carmignola, Manze, etc. They are wpnderful artists, but I generally find the HIP movement a bit too extreme in their quest for "how it was done." Play in style, but don't lose yourself in the process.

Nothing wrong with HIP-though I lament it keeps some modern players from trying "their" (HIP's) repertoire. Enjoy it if it's your thing.

As heralded as Mr. Grumiaux's Mozart has been throughout decades, I fear many strict HIP indibiduals would look at him asa "pitiful" violinist who "did not know any better." Too this or that. I like humble and open minded HIP people-the "canonical" players and scholars, I do not have much time for. No offense intended.

March 5, 2019, 2:18 PM · I think the HIP style has many good things that we can learn from. What I oppose however, is playing HIP just because that's how it was done back then. I think the most important thing is to play optimally, not historically accurately. For example, Baroque singers have a tremendous amount of colours in their arsenal, but Baroque violinists never use the mellow upper portions of the G, D and A strings simply because that's what was not done then. I think these upper string sounds can be explored much more today, with the mindset of 'optimal method to create desired colour', rather than 'optimal method to recreate historic practice'.
March 5, 2019, 6:56 PM · Adalberto and James make some good points about HIP performance. The main issue, IMHO, is whether or not a particular artist/recording works for you when you hear it. There is nothing magic about HIP. It's just another interpretation of the music.
March 6, 2019, 8:33 AM · For a student, I think it is critical to be exposed to historically informed performers. Whether they ultimately go that route or not is another matter. But the exposure is critical. For example, my son learned so much (as did I) about Baroque bowing by watching Baroque specialists and using a Baroque bow. He's transferred some of those skills into his Bach performances. It's another tool in his arsenal. I'd like him to do the same with Mozart -- a thorough understanding of galant and classical bowing techniques. What he eventually does with the piece is a separate matter, but I would like him to have those skills.
March 6, 2019, 9:27 AM · Maybe you could benefit from watching a few masterclasses? For example Henning Kraggerud's masterclass on Mozart 4 as part of last year's Menuhin competition was a revelation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsqsAgUR_ko

Here is an earlier Kaggerud masterclass on Mozart3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj32Bx2bx6M (part 1) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgPDTQqQcng (part 2)

Christian Tetzlaff has a lot to say on Mozart 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkgMZZc02cA

Just a few examples, there's a lot more on youtube, each master with their own focus and approach, and from their insights I have learned not only tachnical aspects but also how this music "works".

March 6, 2019, 1:33 PM · I agree with modern master classes and listening a lot to the more HIP performances for what you seek. It is something I would recommend were I the teacher.

But I would also recommend listening to the "bad", and "historically inaccurate" great performers for a balanced approach, especially considering the bow used will be a modern one. And the cadenzas are all 19th or 20th century, unless you make your own (and then, they will be 21st century!)

I actually have some HIP recordings of violin works, and they are good. But I do not play baroque, classical, or 19th century style violin-my setup is based on the 20th century. The idea is to get ideas from period performance, but not necessarily and strictly play in that manner, as our technique has evolved quite a bit since then. Phrasing, vibrato, bowings, yes we should emulate to a practical extent, but considering all the capabilities and our "modern" technique and violin setups. In fact, that is what most modern soloists are doing as of the last few years-though some do still sound a bit "romantic", most do not.

I frankly believe one can like Manze and Heifetz for Mozart. People liken everything to sports (or worse, politics): "I am Team HIP," or "I am Team Romantic". Just do the music and composer justice, and be convinced about the reasoning of your musical choices.

An open mind is always a beautiful thing, both in music and life.

March 6, 2019, 2:41 PM · I was going to recommend listening to Midori play some Mozart, based on my attendance at a Midori masterclass a couple of years ago and being just a few feet away from her incredibly sensitive playing of only a few phrases. But she has not recorded much Mozart that I could find - violin/piano sonatas and this wonderful Sinfonia Concertante (with Nobuko Imai on the viola) - listen to all 3 movements: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cEI65EFXWo .
March 6, 2019, 4:12 PM · What Adalberto said.
March 7, 2019, 7:04 AM · Hilary Hahn for Mozart 3-5. I find her sound suits Mozart concertos perfectly
March 7, 2019, 9:44 AM · Those are excellent ideas -- thank you! My son really enjoys watching masterclasses.
March 7, 2019, 11:06 AM · What does HIP mean?
March 7, 2019, 11:45 AM · Mr. Shumway,

Historically Informed Performance-apologies for my assumptions.

I think it's a bit grandiose of a term, "period performance" perhaps being a more apt and accurate description. Most "romantic" performers are also "historically informed", even though they may not play on period instruments and bows.

In any case, there's nothing wrong with HIP, their performers, or their fans, as long as they do not become overzealous in their quest for "the right way to play". There's plenty of "HIP-inaccurate", classic performances that are worth listening to, even for HIP ideology subscribers.

I agree with the idea of it being just another way to interpret music, rather than a strict replacement. But people like to fight each other, I guess-an ego, "I am right, you are wrong" thing.

Edited: March 8, 2019, 4:36 AM · Yes, I'm a little bit familiar with HIP, then. A fad that began in 1960s counter-culture. Not unrelated, a friend of a friend is a druid. Lol!
March 8, 2019, 8:26 AM · HIP stands for Hypebeast Internal Patterns.

Wait, that's not right. It's Hiccups In Problems


Okay, but seriously, it's Historically Informed Practice. Interesting that the shorthand for this phrase is quite literally the opposite.

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