Music review: Mozart Arranged: Brecon Baroque & Rachel Podger

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Edinburgh International Festival: Rachel Podger, one of the finest exponents of the baroque violin, and her band Breacon Baroque gave a dazzling performance of two seldom-heard Mozart chamber works in the intimate surroundings of St Cecilia’s Hall.

St Cecilia’s Hall


What a difference two violas made to String Quintet in G minor K 516. Forget the viola jokes, these instruments are at the heart of the music and Alfonso Leal del Ojo and Oliver Wilson’s gutsy contributions really grounded the shifting tonality in the opening movement. After an off-kilter menuetto, with the accents on the third beat of the bar, and a more muted adagio, Podger soared over the other instruments at the bottom of their registers to bring this quintet to a lively conclusion.

Several years after Mozart wrote Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, it was arranged for sextet. Grande Sestetto Concertante after K364 is a novelty with the solo violin and viola parts shared between the instruments with mixed results. The allegro was fast-moving culminating in Podger’s virtuosic cadenza and there was a seductive accordion-like tonality to the andante with its poignant cello melody. However, the presto, for all its catchy tunes, fell short of Mozart’s lightness and grace.