Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 21 & 22
Christian Hadland is a pianist of admirable clarity and poise, but his approach to these two great concertos remains disappointingly unimaginative. There’s a moment in the ‘hunting’-style rondo finale of the Concerto K482, for instance, where the brilliant keyboard figuration abruptly ceases, and Mozart writes a series of long, widely-spaced notes. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is a shorthand for what he would have filled in when performing the piece himself, and simply to reproduce what’s on the page, as Hadland does, makes no sense at all: it merely sounds as though the brakes had suddenly been applied. And a modicum of embellishment again seems to be called for in the meltingly beautiful minuet episode of the same piece, where the notated piano part doubles the first violins throughout. In the end, it’s only in Britten’s flamboyant cadenzas that Hadland’s playing really comes to life.
There’s a distinct lack of stylishness, too, in Arvid Engegård’s rather stiff conducting. His tempo for the opening movement of the C major Concerto K467 doesn’t allow the music adequate breathing-space; and the pulsating triplets that run through the famous slow movement are too dry and detached to convey that uniquely Mozartian perfumed sensuousness. Jonathan Biss and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra made a recording of these two concertos that has a good deal more to offer, though now only available as a download. Those wanting an alternative on CD would do well with Barenboim and the English Chamber Orchestra on EMI.