As the blood began to spill in Lexington and Concord in 1775, triggering the Revolutionary War, Mozart was nineteen years old, composing safely in Salzburg. And though most well known as a piano prodigy, he was also quite the violinist, having toured Europe to perform for royal courts during his childhood. The love of his second instrument is apparent given the diversity of repertoire written for it, ranging from string duets to full symphonic works. That is most explicitly on display in his five violin concertos, all written within the same two years of that era of great revolution and political upheaval.
This intense focus on violin concertos was short-lived, and it is a mystery why Mozart stopped writing them altogether after 1775. But even during this brief period in Mozart’s life, the five concertos he wrote serve as a microcosm for his evolution as a composer.
In the Violin Concerto No. 1, written in 1773, elements of baroque music are the building blocks, with a fairly strict adherence to the norms of the era, not unlike the nascent and abiding pre-Revolution America. Fast-forward two years, though, and Mozart’s violin concertos of 1775 – beginning with the second – take on a more subversive shape, mirroring the unrest in the American colonies.
Continuing the revolutionary undertones of these pieces, German violinist Lena Neudauer brings more than just notes on a page to these performance. In addition to masterfully crafted interpretations, Neudauer has composed all-new cadenzas, injecting her own voice into music that might otherwise be a simple following of a black-dotted roadmap to conformity. Neudauer’s recording presents all five of Mozart’s violin concertos, in addition to a string adagio and two rondos, transmitting both the elegance of their time and a hint of the turbulence yet to come.