Piano Concertos Nos 22 & 23; Der Schauspieldirektor, K486 – Overture
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano); Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy
Chandos CHAN 20166 64:34 mins
Few piano concertos are as well represented on disc as Mozart’s, with benchmark recordings available from Martha Argerich and other great pianists. Some of these involve performance practises outside the ‘norm’ – Mitsuko Uchida (Decca) and Howard Shelley (Chandos) both conduct from the keyboard, for example, and Kristian Bezuidenhout’s fortepiano versions (Harmonia Mundi) add unusual but authentic timbres to Mozart’s music – but generally it could be argued that the repertoire is already well served. It is all the more remarkable, then, that Jean-Efflam Bavouzet continues to bring freshness and renewed enjoyment to these pieces with the latest volume in his complete concerto series.
Bavouzet’s belief in total immersion of an oeuvre – he has previously recorded all of Haydn’s sonatas, Debussy’s piano works and Beethoven’s sonatas and concertos for Chandos – enables him to examine the connective tissue within a body of work. Concerto No. 22 is of The Magic Flute era, a time when Mozart was influenced by the masonic lifestyle. The repeated-note motif in the first movement is sometimes attributed to door-knocking – a secret sign given by the masons. Bavouzet brings out the liquidity of the phrases rather than emphasising the percussive parts, a technique repeated in the final rondo.
The popular No. 23 is given an aching Adagio, neatly offset by the cheerful finale. The overture to Der Schauspieldirektor was composed alongside The Marriage of Figaro and the rhythmic material is very similar. Gábor Takács-Nagy sets Manchester Camerata off at a sure-footed, pacy trot. Chetham’s Stoller Hall reveals its reliably excellent acoustics.