WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K467; Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K491
PERFORMER: City of London Sinfonia/Howard Shelley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: RRC 1067 Reissue (1986)
These are three Mozartians to the manner born. Stylish and stylistic, artfully graceful, technically immaculate while never making a point of it, eloquent without rhetoric. There was a time when such pianists were relatively thin on the ground. Today, almost perplexingly, they abound. But who is Matthias Kirschnereit? On this evidence, he’s a Mozartian who can hold his own with anyone in the catalogue. Exemplary articulation, the subtlest melodic inflection, a wide but never self-indulgent tonal palette, a keen and elegant gift for characterisation – all are present and correct here, beautifully matched by orchestra and conductor.
Anderszewski’s name is more familiar, despite his long overdue arrival in the catalogue as a soloist, and his gifts are prodigious. This is playing of extraordinary sophistication and insight. In his hands these are nothing short of instrumental operas. With his gifts of characterisation (sometimes almost embarrassingly) to the fore, and a subtlety and range of inflection and tone painting which will undoubtedly strike some as excessively ‘Romantic’, he never for one moment neglects Mozart’s continuous dialogue. Some of his rubatos may seem excessive, but these are minor blemishes in a recording of exceptional distinction.
Shelley is an altogether more self-effacing Mozartian, with no trace of narcissism or self-indulgence, but an impeccable sense of style. Listeners who may find Anderszewski mannered to a fault should be far happier with Shelley’s more straightforward approach – and his conducting is as ultra-professional and sensitive as his outstanding playing. Among more famous versions of all these works, Perahia remains unsurpassed but not unequalled.