Mozart’s Piano Concertos K413, 414 and 415 performed by Kristian Bezuidenhout

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi HMC
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Piano Concertos K413, 414, 415
PERFORMER: Kristian Bezuidenhout (piano); Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 902218

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These three Mozart keyboard concertos, completed towards the end of 1782 and announced together in the composer’s own January 1783 Wiener Zeitung advertisement, form the second volume of Kristian Bezuidenhout’s unfolding series with the Freiburg orchestra. It’s by no means the works’ first time together on CD. All three share Mozart’s description of being ‘something between too difficult and too easy’ and capable of pleasing connoisseur and layman alike, while standing marvellously distinct from each other in terms of key and dramatic character, and they add up to a naturally balanced programme. Seldom, however, have they been put across with such completely unified strength of purpose: in each concerto the period orchestral players show themselves exhilaratingly at one with their brilliant fortepiano soloist in exacting the maximum communicative vitality from every bar.

These are dazzling performances, at times unusually searching in outlook – the D major slow movement of K414, intended as a tribute to the recently dead JC Bach, attains here an unfamiliar poignancy through Bezuidenhout’s exquisitely shaped soft phrases.

For some tastes Mozart’s delectable subtleties of understatement in K413 may seem slightly sacrificed by such an obviously ‘interventionist’ approach (compare the altogether more relaxed Bilson and Gardiner on DG Archiv). For my taste eight violins – four each of firsts and seconds – prove at times simply too few to reinforce the full C major ceremonial grandeur of K415, especially given Harmonia Mundi’s close-focus recording. Not everyone will be happy with Bezuidenhout’s added ornamentation in repeats. Yet all such cavils aside, the sum total is an outstandingly successful, pleasure-giving new Mozart concerto disc.

Max Loppert

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording.