WORKS: Piano Concerto in G K453; Piano Quintet in E flat K452
PERFORMER: Mitsuko Uchida (piano); ECO/Jeffrey Tate
CATALOGUE NO: 422 592-2 DDD
Mozart thought his K452, written amid a clutch of masterly piano concertos, his finest piece to date. It is disappointing that Mitsuko Uchida, whose recordings of Mozart’s piano sonatas and concertos show acute sensitivity to style and balance, has missed the mark here.
The opening Largo should certainly be slow, but not so funereal as to lose all tension. The other tempi are acceptable but the balance is not, the piano being much too prominent in several passages where the thematic substance is in the wind. The primary colours Mozart envisaged are not relished and the recording makes the piano sound puddingy in both the middle and low registers. One might regard the K452 recording as a good argument for using period instruments. It is pleasant to report that the recording of the marvellous G major Concerto, made in 1986, is worthy of inclusion in the highly recommendable series which Jeffrey Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra have now completed for Philips. Indeed, this concerto particularly suits Uchida’s clarity and articulation; she plays two of Mozart’s cadenzas, however, without enough flamboyance. Julian Rushton