WORKS: Piano Concerto in E flat, K449′ Violin Concerto in B flat, K450; Violin Concerto in D, K451
PERFORMER: Berlin PO/Daniel Barenboim (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-16827-2
Mozart described K450 and K451 as concertos ‘to make one sweat’; and certainly the first of them is a virtuoso piece par excellence. It is one that suits Daniel Barenboim down to the ground, and his sparkling performance is greatly aided by the superb playing of the Berlin Philharmonic. This new version also has a much more natural tempo for the slow movement than Barenboim’s 1968 recording with the English Chamber Orchestra.
Less successful is the D major Concerto, K451, whose first movement surely needs more urgency than it gets from Barenboim, either here or in his older recording. András Schiff (Decca) is a player who projects the piece with greater alertness. Barenboim’s view of the opening Allegro vivace of the fine E flat Concerto, K449, is again too leisurely by far, and it is disappointing to find him perpetuating a significant textual error. As the music approaches the cadenza, Mozart diverts the soloist’s closing trill from its expected course, and has the orchestra plunging in beneath it in a new key. Barenboim follows the older editions, which soften the blow of this double surprise by delaying the orchestral entry until the trill has finished; but Schiff, Brendel and Uchida (Philips) are among those who restore Mozart’s original.
The latest instalment in Richard Goode’s cycle has some very distinguished playing indeed. An inspired conductor like Sándor Végh (for András Schiff) is perhaps able to draw an ounce more intensity out of the imperious opening chords of K503, but these are immensely satisfying performances of two of Mozart’s greatest concertos. Misha Donat