Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 17; Piano Concerto No. 20

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart: Piano Concertos
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 17; Piano Concerto No. 20
PERFORMER: Piotr Anderszewski (piano); Scottish CO
CATALOGUE NO: 344 6962
What immediately impresses about these performances is not only the limpidness and unpretentious expressive quality of Anderszewski’s playing, but also the care he’s obviously lavished on orchestral detail – beautifully realised by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Anderszewski seems to have thought hard about the music’s long-range effect, too. His playing of the left-hand horn-calls in the main second subject of the G major Concerto’s opening Allegro sounds at first curiously restrained; but when the same theme returns in Mozart’s own cadenza he allows the horns to ring out, to thrilling effect. Following a rapt performance of the slow movement, Anderszewski takes the final variations, with their ‘chirping’ theme, at a genuine Allegretto, so that there’s no danger of the music degenerating into a virtuoso romp, as it often does.

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Anderszewski’s flowing tempo for the second movement of the famous D minor Concerto K466 allows him to maintain the same pulse for the agitated middle section, so that the piece has greater organic unity than in performances which lurch forward at this point. (Mozart in any case provides his own written-out ritardando, with notes of progressively longer values, to pave the way for the reprise of the ‘Romance’ theme.) This is altogether another fine performance, with only the opening movement’s central development section perhaps a shade less demonic than it could be. These concertos have been superbly recorded with the same orchestra by Brendel and Mackerras, but this new version can well stand comparison with theirs. Not to be missed. Misha Donat