Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 11-13
Katrine Gislinge; Stenhammar Quartet (Alba)
Piano Concertos (cadenzas by B Sørensen): No. 11 in F, K413; No. 12 in A,K414; No. 13 in C, K415
Katrine Gislinge (piano); Stenhammar Quartet
Alba ABCD 418 (hybrid CD/SACD) 72:35 mins
These three concertos belong marvellously well together. Completed towards the end of 1782 and advertised together the following January, all three add up to a naturally balanced programme, as attested by the numerous single-CD recordings in the catalogue onto which they have been comfortably fitted. Mozart was aiming to attract the broadest range of performers: describing all three keyboard concertos as being ‘something between too difficult and too easy’, he designed them to allow accompaniments by either full orchestra or ‘a quattro’ – that is, by string quartet.
Recently there have been rewarding examples of both Mozart’s full orchestral scores (by Kristian Bezuidenhout and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra on Harmonia Mundi) and his ‘chamber’ ones (by the Kuijken family, on Challenge Classics) – in each case with fortepiano as solo instrument and period-style instrumental support. Here, instead, the Danish pianist Katrine Gislinge and the Swedish Stenhammar Quartet revive the five-person versions, employing a modern piano and modern strings. All three of their readings immediately announce the collaboration of five strong-minded executants uninhibited by the ‘a quattro’ format and alive to Mozart’s inimitable imbuing of concert-hall compositions with theatrical suggestiveness – Gislinge’s nuanced phrasing shows herself particularly responsive to this sort of ‘operatic’ characterisation.
A less happy feature of the enterprise, to my ears at least, is that each concerto comes decked with solo cadenzas by Gislinge’s husband, the distinguished composer Bent Sørensen, that wander speedily into a stylistic no man’s land. Even this, however, marks the recording out as entirely free from predictable routine. And while my first choice for these works remains the dazzling Bezuidenhout-Freiburg disc, I’m very glad to have encountered this one.