Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 19 in F, K459; Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, K503

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 19 in F, K459; Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, K503
PERFORMER: Till Fellner (piano); Camerata Academica Salzburg/Alexander Janiczek
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-23299-2
Till Fellner is a Mozartian worth watching, even if highest expectations aren’t quite satisfied here. With him, it’s crystalline grace and textural clarity, less so the grand gesture, that impress most in this recording of Mozart’s largest C major concerto, K503. Paul Badura-Skoda’s cadenza was an elegant choice for the opening Allegro maestoso, but Fellner’s Andante lacks the sublimity and stasis that invariably bespeak great Mozart playing. However, the finale is triumphantly emphatic, with that fearsomely beautiful F major passage for the soloist and then the oboe enunciated quite as magically as ever I’ve heard it. And if Fellner’s genial traversal of K459 in F seems more discursive and lucid, it’s only because he’s less hung up on Olympian rhetoric, and therefore plays in a more relaxed manner.

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But these outwardly impressive offerings lack the finish and refinement which experience alone affords, so Fellner doesn’t have the last word here. Alfred Brendel’s masterful 1978 version of K503 displays peerless expressivity and scholarly insight, even if this reissue disappoints sonically. In the F major Concerto, Barenboim’s 1994 live Berlin performance (paired with No. 18 in B flat, K456) still leads the field with playing that’s as leonine as it is Classically literate. Michael Jameson