The violinist Julia Fischer is artist-in-residence with the London Philharmonic this spring. Her first group of concerts with the orchestra focusses on Mozart, with all five of his solo-violin concertos spread across three programmes. In the second of them, with Thomas Søndergård conducting, she played the fifth concerto, in A major, K219, as well as the Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, K364.
There is no doubting the technical security of Fischer’s playing, nor the understated authority of her musicianship. But her account of the concerto was unsmiling and short on charm. With rather curt, peremptory phrasing, emotions kept on the shortest rein and little inclination to relish moments of lyricism even in the central Adagio, it was all oddly joyless.
Joined by the violist Nils Mönkemeyer for the Sinfonia Concertante, Fischer did seem more relaxed, though there was still something rather perfunctory about their performance. On this evidence Mönkemeyer isn’t an expansively expressive player either, and there was little of the playful give-and-take one associates with the best performances of this extraordinary work, let alone any obvious attempt to explore the depths of its slow movement, perhaps the most profound music Mozart had written up to that point in his life.
It was left to Søndergård to inject a bit of life into the evening. He’d opened the concert with a suitably bright and brash account of the overture to Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail – tying in nicely with the “Turkish music” episode in the finale of the A major concerto. Then, with the LPO forces almost doubled in size just for this one work, he closed it with a brilliantly coloured romp through Strauss’s tone poem Till Eulenspiegel, depicting each of its picaresque episodes with sardonic vividness.