Some say it's violinist Andrew Manze's tone that makes him distinctive, that there's a sweetness to his non-vibrato swells and a strength to his flexible bowing that make his playing so attractive. Some say it's Manze's phrasing that makes him distinctive, that there's a lyrical quality to his line and a molded quality to his dynamics that make his playing so appealing. Some say it's Manze's interpretation that makes him so distinctive, that there's a combination of fantasy, intensity, and effortless virtuosity that make his performances so persuasive. Some say it's all these things at once and this 2006 disc of the last three of Mozart's five violin concertos is the proof.
…In sum, this is a disc that's easy to recommend for its consistently engaging music and first-rate performances–but it's also a recording that you can turn way up and enjoy full-bodied, undistorted, viscerally present instrumental sound. A winner!
The pairing of Vaughan Williams' Job and his Symphony No. 9 is a logical one, not least because of the prominent role given to saxophones in both works. Vaughan Williams called Job a "masque," following old English usage, but it's a ballet in all but name, and like many of them it succeeds as a standalone orchestral work. The idea of a ballet based on the Book of Job seems slightly odd until you learn that it was inspired by William Blake's illustrations for the story, which would have been very familiar to Vaughan Williams' audiences in 1930.
As smooth and delicious a performance of Beethoven's First Piano Concerto as has been released since the turn of the century, Ronald Brautigam's account of the work with Andrew Parrott and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra compares with Richter's for sparkle, with Pollini's for cleverness, and with Michelangeli's for liveliness. Brautigam's opening Allegro con brio has velocity and control, his central Largo expressivity and refinement, and his closing Rondo wit and whimsy.