WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15; Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K488
PERFORMER: Helen Huang (piano)New York PO/Kurt Masur
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-99207-2 DDD
Tring apportion eight lines of their six-page booklet to Mariaclara Monetti, but she hardly warrants more – she may qualify as the least polished Mozartian I’ve heard in a decade. I doubt that a more flaccid, lacklustre reading of the tempestuous D minor concerto has ever found its way onto disc – this brand of maladroitly insipid Mozart pianism was outmoded two decades ago. Monetti’s limp, ham-fisted style is the more tedious for Ivor Bolton’s stolid RPO accompaniments, disastrously miscalculated in the inflammatory finale of K466. Monetti’s account of K595, the valedictory exodus of Mozart’s great saga of piano concertos, is similarly uninspired. Bright sonics, but recording balances are seriously awry; this barely passes muster, even as an entry-level budget issue.
At 13, the Sino-American pianist Helen Huang is a phenomenon, but I’d hesitate to place her performances of the C major Beethoven concerto, and Mozart’s A major concerto, K488, in the Wunderkind category. She plays with admirable refinement, yet her lack of experience tells. There’s a facile automatism here, needing both subtlety and interpretative depth, so despite Huang’s confidence and accuracy these offerings are generally unremarkable. Masur and the NYPO accompany circumspectly, but the Avery Fisher Hall audience sounds a chesty and dyspeptic bunch in these live recordings. Michael Jameson