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Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 5-9

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

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Piano Concertos Nos 5, 6, 8 & 9; Overtures to La finta giardiniera, Il sogno di Scipione, Lucio Silla, Il re pastore & Zaide
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano); Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy
Chandos CHAN 20137(2)   125.11 mins (2 discs)

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Mozart’s earliest four piano concertos are arrangements of other composers. There follows a sequence of four from his later teens showing his sophisticated command of every galante and Italianate idiom of the day, but only intermittent touches of individuality. Then suddenly we have Concerto No. 9 in E flat, K271, composed at 20 for a certain Madame Jenamy, (not Jeunehomme, as long supposed), with the surprise incursion of the piano right at the beginning, its Andantino of genuine pathos and with a delectably decorative minuet episode in its finale: a fully mature Mozart piano concerto – indeed one of the best.

The balance between a nine-foot Yamaha grand piano and a modern chamber orchestra may be rather different from a Mozartian fortepiano and period instruments. And Mozart would certainly have raised an eyebrow over the razzy cadenza Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has devised for the finale of Concerto No. 5. All the same, his accounts of the four concertos in this fifth release in his ongoing series, spaciously recorded by Chandos, is replete with all his accustomed deftness, nuance and insight – though at least half the success of these readings is due to the beautifully moulded phrasing Gábor Takács-Nagy and his Manchester Camerata players bring to even Mozart’s most conventional passages.

The concertos are buttressed by elegant accounts of five early Mozart opera overtures, though the last of them proves to be his short Symphony No. 32, K310, which he might have used for Zaide (unstaged in his lifetime) – but probably not. Bayan Northcott

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