Mozart: Piano Concertos
Mozart’s Concerto K595 is usually thought of as an autumnal, even a valedictory work, and it’s true that it has a peculiarly mellow quality. But although Mozart entered it in his running catalogue of works in January 1791, less than a year before he died, he probably composed its first two movements as early as 1788, around the same time as the Coronation Concerto K537. Angela Hewitt takes a much less nostalgic approach to the slow movement than most pianists. But while I wouldn’t always want to hear a lingering performance of the kind Britten and Curzon gave (theirs took nine minutes, as opposed to Hewitt’s six), it’s difficult not to feel that in Hewitt’s hands the piece lacks expressive depth. Maria João Pires and Claudio Abbado are only marginally slower, yet they manage to imbue the music with a good deal more poetry. No less controversial is Hewitt’s account of the finale, where, in an attempt to counteract the traditionally carefree view of the music, she has produced a performance that’s distinctly short of rhythmic vitality.
Much more of a success is the sparkling G major Concerto K453, where Hewitt displays her pianistic talents to full advantage. Particularly enjoyable are the concluding variations, with their opera buffa-style coda, in which she seems completely at one with the alert playing of the Mantua Chamber Orchestra under Hannu Lintu.