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Mozart: The Complete Multipiano Concertos

MultiPiano Ensemble; English Chamber Orchestra (Hyperion)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Concerto for three pianos and orchestra in F, K242; Concerto for two pianos and orchestra in E flat, K365; Larghetto and Allegro for two pianos and orchestra in E flat
MultiPiano Ensemble; English Chamber Orchestra
Hyperion CDA68367   58:36 mins

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Amongst the most intriguing  of Mozart’s incomplete works is a Larghetto and Allegro, probably dating from 1781. The surviving score, which consists of a very brief Larghetto introduction and a substantial portion of an extended Allegro, is written on four staves, suggesting that Mozart may have intended the work to have been conceived for two keyboard instruments. Indeed, the best-known and most idiomatic completions of the fragment by Paul Badura-Skoda and Robert Levin adhere to this scoring.

Israeli pianist Tomar Lev has gone one better, conjecturing on the basis of the specific characteristics of the musical material that Mozart may well have intended to write a work combining the two keyboards with an orchestral accompaniment – an arrangement that to my ears sounds entirely plausible, particularly in this sparkling performance from Lev, Alon Kariv and the English Chamber Orchestra (ECO).

Mozart’s complete multi-piano concertos, including K365 performed here in the more intimately scored Salzburg version, receive equally vivid interpretations from Lev and an assortment of different pianists. In contrast to the gladiatorial contest between famous soloists often encountered on other recordings, the performers in this long-established group place the greatest emphasis on achieving a well-nigh perfect unanimity of articulation in the brilliant passagework. But they also produce some lovely fluid cantabile playing in the slow movements. A small-sized ECO delivers crisp orchestral tuttis, though occasionally the oboes sound too backwardly placed in relation to the pianos.

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Erik Levi