WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat K271; Piano Concerto No. 17 in G K453
PERFORMER: Angela Cheng (piano); CBC Vancouver Orchestra/ Mario Bernardi
CATALOGUE NO: SMCD 5104 DDD
If you like your Mozart on a modern piano with an orchestra of 20th-century instruments, this coupling of two popular concertos must be rated one of the most attractive of recent times. Angela Cheng has a beautiful touch and an impeccable technique; the orchestra is conducted by Mario Bernardi with real musicianship and a true feeling for the Mozartian style. My only (minor) carp is the tempo of the slower movements of K271, which Mozart marks ‘Andantino’. At 12:24 I find this far too slow. Linda Nicholson, who has recently recorded it on a fortepiano (Capriccio), takes very nearly two minutes less, and she is surely right and Angela Cheng wrong.
On the other hand, the Andante of the Concerto in G K453 is taken at an ideal tempo, not too slow and not too fast. The cadenzas are, thank God, Mozart’s: there must be a special place in hell for bad cadenza-writers. In many respects this attractive CD is an ideal introduction to Mozart’s piano concertos for someone who might not like the sound of the 18th-century piano. For those who prefer a fortepiano, one can recommend Linda Nicholson or the standard version by Malcolm Bilson/John Eliot Gardiner (Archiv). HC Robbins Landon