Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos 1-4 played by Ronald Brautigam

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Piano Concertos Nos 1-4
PERFORMER: Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano); Die Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-2094 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Mozart’s first four piano concertos aren’t strictly speaking by him at all, but were compiled by the 11-year-old Mozart, with some help from his father, out of sonata movements by such successful composers of the day as Hermann Friedrich Raupach and Leontzi Honauer. Only in one instance – the slow movement of the first concerto of the series – do Mozart and his father seem to have composed an original piece. In the remainder they added their own tutti passages, and provided accompaniments to the original keyboard parts, though several of the pieces betray their origin in sonatas by being cast in two sections which are repeated. All the same, the music is skilfully put together, and the replacing of oboes by flutes in the last concerto of the series makes for a refreshing change of palette.

Ronald Brautigam and Michael Alexander Willens offer characteristically lively performances, though they’re perhaps a bit short on imaginative touches. It’s true that there are no great depths to be plumbed in this music, but a piece such as the Andante of K39 could do with greater warmth and sensuousness. It’s based on an attractive sonata movement by Johann Schobert, and its hypnotically repeated triplets (a similar idea appears in the famous slow movement of Mozart’s Concerto K467) to which Mozart added pizzicato strings, sound rather prosaic here.

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Misha Donat