Piano Concerto No. 16 in D major, K451; Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat major, K450*; Piano Concerto No. 5 in D major, K175**
Anne-Marie McDermott (piano); Odense Symphony Orchestra/Kenneth Montgomery, *Gilbert Varga, **Andreas Delfs
Bridge BRIDGE 9523 69:08 mins
Since fewer than half of Mozart’s piano concertos habitually make it onto 21st-century concert platforms (when any are open), an ongoing series of discs including comparative rarities is always welcome. In this second volume of one such sequence, the pianist Anne-Marie McDermott turns to three ebullient and charming works that are rarely given their due. The early D major Concerto K175 was Mozart’s first triumph in the genre, proving popular on his travels in his late teens; K450 and K451 date from 1784 and were designed for his own subscription concerts, which were valuable as he sought to establish himself at the heart of Vienna’s musical life.
These are deceptively tricky works: ideally they should sound effortless, yet one note out of place can risk derailing the whole thing. No such mishap occurs here. McDermott’s playing suits them extremely well: she offers a natural flow, unaffected and songful phrasing, and close attention to the blend of her sound with the ensemble. The Odense Symphony Orchestra may not be wholly slick, but in all three concertos, each with a different conductor (for reasons that are not immediately apparent), their approach, like McDermott’s, is engaging and direct. The music has room to ebb, flow, breathe and speak, without any sense of extraneous agenda and no inclination towards point-scoring, while the crucial woodwind solos are delivered with some aplomb. In general, these are modest, unassuming accounts that exude affection and can get under your skin quite rapidly. Recorded sound quality is warm and accommodating, even if not the sharpest in definition.