Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 17 in G K453; Piano Concerto No. 19 in F K459; Fantasia in D minor K397

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Teledisc Academy Collection
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 17 in G K453; Piano Concerto No. 19 in F K459; Fantasia in D minor K397
PERFORMER: Diana Ambache (piano)Ambache Chamber Orchestra
CATALOGUE NO: ACDM 13 CD DDD
For all those who have never gone out in avid pursuit of the Haydn violin concertos, here are performances to make you sit up and listen. Mayumi Seiler brings to these unassuming early pieces an exceptional blend of precision with tonal generosity, finesse with enthusiasm, which seems to catch the (non-period) orchestra’s fancy as much as it will the listener’s.

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There are impulsive cadenzas and sweet-toned slow movements, of which the first and most widely known concerto, in C, has the best – a piquant song over plucked accompaniment, like updated Vivaldi. The concise, buoyant finales go with great gusto, and Seiler persuades you to share her absorption in the leisurely opening movements.

Diana Ambache’s Mozart performances, again as soloist and director, are equally spirited and single-minded, and even more bright-eyed and impulsive while retaining an intimate and unforced ease of address. The music itself, on an altogether different plane of greatness, hardly depends on special pleading, but it does need high-quality woodwind to make the most of its orchestral colouring.

Here the Ambache Chamber Orchestra is in its element. Bassoon and oboe regularly catch the ear, flute comes into its own in K459. The string playing is less tidy, but the music-making is always fully alive, and the solo Fantasia is a lyrical encore.

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The series takes its name from the Royal Academy of Arts – the booklet fronts carry mini-prints by Royal Academicians – and other new issues include some fine Beethoven from the Trio of London (ACDM 12), with a romantic and dashing Archduke and an irresistible finale to the early G major Piano Trio. Robert Maycock