Francesca Dego, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Sir Roger Norrington | Mozart Violin Concertos, Vol. 2 Review
by Illiam Sebitz
Francesca Dego is based in London and is an Italian-born violinist. She plays on a precious Francesco Ruggeri violin (Cremona 1697), one of the many reasons she is known for her resounding tone, compelling interpretations, and flawless technique. Dego is one of the most sought-after young violinists on the international scene. Recently signed to Chandos Records, her first disc on the label honors the legacy of Niccolò Paganini with a recording of works inspired by the great violinist and performed on his violin, the fabled “Il Cannone.” Following their critically acclaimed first volume of Mozart’s violin concertos (CHAN 20234), Dego and Sir Roger Norrington are returning to complete the set with Mozart Violin Concertos, Vol. 2. Joining them is again a reduced Royal Scottish National Orchestra. This cycle not only represents the first time Sir Roger has recorded these concertos, but the present album is also his final recording project. All five concertos were written before Mozart was twenty.
The powerful album opens with Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Major, K. 207, and the performance is with modern instruments with metal strings; still, this performance is deep with Norrington’s lifetime of experience in period performance practices. The veteran Mozartian Norrington brings his historical performance practice as he conducts the Orchestra to support the young Italian American soloist. Dego’s performance is inspiring as she effortlessly creates a singing tone in the “Adagio” and brings a passionate flair to the “Presto” section. The gentle sway of the “Presto” and the dynamics surge with Dego’s interpretation. Her tone is beautiful, and she articulates the music joyfully and playfully, as any good Mozart should be performed.
The ever-popular Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 “Turkish” is enlivened with Dego’s ravishing tonal control as she breathes life into the flowing melodies. Norrington’s leadership and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra create an agile and gorgeously nuanced reading of the Concerto. The “Allegro aperto” fully showcases Dego’s marvelous technique, exemplary musicianship, and the Orchestra’s remarkable balance. Dego’s sense of tone, color, and ability to different feelings and spirits to shape a phrase can be heard in the “Adagio” movement. Dego’s sense of rhythm and splendid ear results in a fine rendition of the “Rondeau. Tempo di Menuetto.”
Mozart Violin Concertos, Vol. 2 is a very special and memorable recording that deserves repeated listening. The album is Norrington’s last recording, and Dego’s sound is vibrant, detailed, and vibrantly colored, suitably intimate. Combine this with the full-bodied Royal Scottish National Orchestra, creating a special atmosphere for these three concertos.
Release Date: September 2, 2022