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Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 15 and 16; Quintet for Piano and Winds

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet; Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy (Chandos)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat, KV450; Piano Cocncerto No. 16 in D major, KV451; Quintet for Piano and Winds, KV452
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano); Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy
Chandos CHAN 20035   71:03 mins

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1784 proved to be a vintage year for Mozart, prompting a steady stream of masterpieces, three of which are featured in this enthralling release. First, we have the exuberant Concerto in D major, K451. The opening tutti of the first movement sets the scene for the rest of the performance, the Manchester Camerata under Gábor Takács-Nagy delivering blisteringly energetic articulation in the powerful full orchestral passages, as well as ensuring that there is a vibrant sense of dialogue between strings and wind in the gentler second idea. These contrasts in mood, coupled with the ability to engage in consistently stimulating creative interaction with conductor and orchestra, mark out Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s brilliant account of the solo part. Nowhere is this more effectively realised than in the Finale where both Bavouzet and Takács-Nagy relish Mozart’s wicked touches of humour, particularly where the opening material is transformed into something almost akin to a Viennese waltz. For me, however, the highlight in this performance comes in the central Andante where soloist, conductor and orchestra conjure up a magical soundworld, reinforcing admiration for the ingenuity with which Mozart decorates the simple opening theme.

It’s a bonus to supplement these two Concertos with the Quintet for Piano and Wind, K452 which the composer justifiably regarded as one of his greatest accomplishments. Once again, Bavouzet, working in a stimulating partnership with the orchestra principals, produces an elegant account that more than holds its own with many of the formidable recordings in the current catalogue.

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Erik Levi