Piano Concertos: No. 23 in A, K488; No. 24 in C minor, K491
Julian Trevelyan (piano); ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien/Christian Zacharias
Alpha Classics ALPHA883 57:11 mins
This recording of two of Mozart’s most famous piano concertos forms part of a ‘Next Generation Mozart Soloists’ series funded by the Swiss Orpheum Foundation. Julian Trevelyan won the Mozart concerto prize at the recent Géza Anda Competition in Zürich, and he’s a sympathetic and unfailingly musical player.
On the evidence of this recording, though, he may well feel more at home in front of an audience than in an empty studio. The dramatic C minor Concerto K491 often sounds rather restrained, as though Trevelyan were anxious not to overstep the bounds of 18th-century convention – except, that is, in the flamboyant first-movement cadenza by Hummel, itself an acquired taste. The coda of the finale, in particular, where the music becomes more urgent following a change in metre and there’s an impassioned chromatic phrase which recurs over and over again (a moment much admired by Beethoven) is too easy-going.
The A major K488 fares better, though it’s possible to feel that Trevelyan doesn’t convey all the melancholy of the siciliano-like slow movement – Mozart’s only piece in the key of F sharp minor – and that the finale could do with a touch more sparkle. Fellow-pianist Christian Zacharias, who knows these pieces backwards, provides adequate support as conductor, but the beginning of the C minor Concerto is too loud, and Zacharias is a little too fond of down-beat accents in general. Nice as it is to hear fresh blood, these performances don’t really stand out in what is a very crowded field.