Mitsuko Uchida performs Mozart’s piano concertos Nos 17 & 25

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WORKS: Piano Concertos Nos 17 & 25
PERFORMER: Mitsuko Uchida (piano/director); Cleveland Orchestra
CATALOGUE NO: 483 0716


Mitsuko Uchida’s performances of Mozart divide opinion. They did in the 1980s, when she recorded all the piano concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra and Jeffrey Tate, and they have done with her ‘live’ recordings of ten of the last concertos with the Cleveland Orchestra, Uchida conducting. This is the first disc I have heard of the recent performances, and I find it ravishing. It has everything that Mozart, most searching of composers, demands, and just as important, nothing that he doesn’t. People do find Uchida precious and fussy, but that isn’t at all the impression I have. Clearly she loves every note, and loves them even more now than 30 years ago, but that doesn’t lead to unnecessary dwelling on them, or pulling around the phrases, or any of the other lapses that can be so infuriating.

Both performances are slower than the previous recording, but they never seem slow. The Cleveland Orchestra interacts with their great soloist to the utmost, as if they were members of a long-lasting chamber group, and the playing of the woodwind is so marvellous that you wish you could re-run what you’ve just heard and play it again. Perfection of its kind.


Michael Tanner