Claudio Abbado isn't a name one associates with early music, in light of his impressive career conducting the masterworks of the Romantic and modern eras. Indeed, he didn't conduct any music by J.S. Bach with the Berlin Philharmonic until as late as 1994. Yet when he's leading the talented Orchestra Mozart of Bologna in Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, his ease with the music and his players is obvious, and the performances have almost as much Baroque style as many versions by period ensembles of greater longevity. Abbado led this ensemble in all six Brandenburgs in 2007 at the Teatro Municipale Romolo Valli in Reggio Emilio, and the live performances were recorded by Deutsche Grammophon with close attention to details, as befits chamber music.
In November 2004 a new name caused listeners to prick up their ears on the international orchestral scene: under Claudio Abbado’s artistic guidance the Orchestra Mozart came into being. It combines both young instrumentalists on the threshold of a first-rate career as well as eminent chamber musicians such as Danusha Waskiewicz, Alois Posch, Jacques Zoon, Michaela Petri, Ottavio Dantone, Mario Brunello, Alessio Allegrini, Jonathan Williams and Reinhold Friedrich. As with his famous Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Abbado hand-picked an ensemble to his liking, this time one of early- and Baroque-music specialists, all masters in their field.
As long as there are violinists around like Giuliano Carmignola, classical music will never be a museum for the dead because in his hands, Mozart's Concertos are brilliantly, vibrantly, irresistibly alive. Carmignola, who later signed with Sony and then Deutsche Gramophone after these recordings were made in 1997, is a violinist with a light bow, a warm tone, an impeccable intonation and a superlative technique, all of which are needed for Mozart's effervescent Concertos. But, best of all, Carmignola has an elegant way of turning a phrase and a graceful manner of expressing the inner life of the music. With the skilled if not especially characterful il Quartettone led by Carlo de Martini, Carmignola turns in performances of Mozart Concertos which while they might not challenge the greatest recordings ever made, certainly do reconfirm the life enhancing – life affirming – qualities of the music.(James Leonard)
When considering the first set of compositions designed to truly extend and test the technical limits of the violin, most would first consider the 24 Caprices of Paganini. However, more than a century before Paganini was even thought of, Italian composer Pietro Locatelli was pushing the violin to its limits with his four concertos of Opus 3, subtitled the "Art of the Violin."
Italian violinist Guiliano Carmignola has a crisp, sharp style that can do wonderful things in High Baroque repertory. In Classical-period music he is again distinctive, but your mileage may vary. This release harks back to the middle days of historically informed playing, when Baroque groups first began to explore the Classical era (and music beyond). There are no graceful, gentle lines here, no warm, muted colors of mythological figures frolicking in summer sunshine.
Recording after recording, Giuliano Carmignola, Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra have proven themselves as a winning combination. After previously triumphing in the music of Vivaldi, Carmignola discovers the almost completely forgotten repertoire of the Italian violin concerto, bridging the gap between the Baroque and Classical styles in the mid-18th century. During this time period, violin virtuosi would travel across Europe giving concerts to great acclaim. It is their music that Carmignola performs.
If this is the future of Mozart performance practice, the future is secure. The combination of period instrument violinist Giuliano Carmignola and modern instrument conductor Claudio Abbado leading the youthful period instrument Orchestra Mozart produces something new under the sun: a hybrid of both approaches that takes the best from both and creates something fresh and shining. Carmignola, the leader of Venice's Teatro La Fenice and one of Italy's best period violinists, has a focused tone, a lively sense of rhythm, and a wonderful feeling for line and color.