Stories » Maxim Vengerov directs the UBS Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra from the violin on new release of: Mozart Violin Concertos

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Maxim Vengerov directs the UBS Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra from the violin on new release of: Mozart Violin Concertos

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Maxim Vengerov has embarked on a project to record Mozart's complete works for violin and orchestra over a two year period for EMI Classics. The first CD, released in the U.S. on April 3rd  2007, features the Violin Concertos Nos. 2 and 4, as well as the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola with Lawrence Power as viola soloist. Vengerov directs the UBS Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra from the violin.

When the artists performed the repertoire on this disc at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the 2006 BBC Proms, The Times (London) reported, "The Verbier band work and play with Maxim Vengerov, and clearly love every minute. By treating the second and fourth concertos as chamber music, directed from the bow, the music's true virtuosity - its harmonic surprises, its filigree of fantasy, its infinity of song - rang out of playing both thrillingly sure of itself, yet with an unselfconscious hint of unpredictability too". For the first time on disc as a concerto soloist, this release sees Maxim Vengerov in the role as director, guiding the orchestra from the violin. The intimacy he achieves with the orchestra is the result of intensive work with the young musicians over an 18-month period filled with week-long masterclasses, rehearsals and workshops held in Israel and Switzerland. In conducting the orchestra from the violin, Vengerov continues the tradition of great violinists such as Itzhak Perlman, whose own recordings of these works can be found in the EMI catalogue.

Mozart was still a teenager when he composed the five violin concertos. Already a star pianist and violinist, he was beginning to make his name as a composer in the court orchestra of Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg. Both concertos Nos. 2 (KV 211) and 4 (KV 218) date from 1775 and are in the key of D Major, although they are very different in mood. Maxim Vengerov plays his own cadenzas.

Four years later, in 1779, Mozart composed his deeply expressive Sinfonia Concertante (KV364), for violin and viola, a noticeably more mature work – indeed a masterpiece - that anticipates the emotional depth of the famous operas and piano concertos still to come. In the Sinfonia Concertante, Maxim Vengerov is joined by Lawrence Power, the young British viola player who is rapidly taking his place alongside artists Yuri Bashmet and Tabea Zimmermann as a world-class viola soloist. The Independent review of the Proms concert says, "with Lawrence Power in the Sinfonia Concertante ... real magic was made."

Thirty-two years old this year, Maxim Vengerov has been in the public eye and ear from an early age. Vengerov's recordings have won numerous Gramophone and Grammy awards, his recitals and concerto performances regularly sell out. He has been the subject of international media attention in both the music and mainstream press and television for his phenomenal technical prowess and recognizable 'voice', as well as for his activities as a teacher (giving masterclasses and serving as UNICEF Ambassador for Music) and as a student (learning tango and jazz improvisation). An exclusive EMI Classics artist, Vengerov has recorded concertos by Beethoven, Britten, Saint-Sa?ns, Shchedrin, Stravinsky and Walton, a solo recital and a recital of violin encores with piano.   

Since it's formation in 2000, The UBS Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra – fostered by the unique support of financial services firm UBS – has achieved an outstanding international reputation for quality, vitality and commitment under its Conductor Laureate James Levine. The Orchestra's musicians, aged between 17 and 29 years of age, are drawn from some 30 countries. The Orchestra gave its first public performance in 2005 in New York with Ren?e Fleming, subsequently touring Europe with violinist Joshua Bell. It appeared at the 2006 Verbier Festival with artists including Barbara Hendricks and Emmanuel Ax, making its BBC Proms debut in August 2006.

This release is timed to lead into a Spring 2007 tour in which Maxim Vengerov leads the UBS Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra in performances of Mozart violin concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante at New York's Carnegie Hall, Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall, Vienna's Musikverein, Luxembourg's Philharmonie, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Dublin's National Concert Hall, Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall, Birmingham's City Hall and London's Barbican.