Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 11 in F, K413; Piano Concerto No. 13 in C, K415; Rondo in A, K386

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: L’OISEAU-LYRE
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 11 in F, K413; Piano Concerto No. 13 in C, K415; Rondo in A, K386
PERFORMER: Robert Levin (fortepiano)Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: 444 571-2 DDD
This is a remarkable disc. Robert Levin is a musician of unique gifts – scholar, pianist, lecturer. He improvises his own cadenzas on the spot (as he did for these performances) and he plays a beautiful reproduction of a fortepiano by Johann Andreas Stein, c1785.

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Of the three works here recorded, the most extraordinary is surely the concerto in C, K415, in Mozart’s expanded version with trumpets and kettledrums. This is a work that was as good as unknown when I was young; Wanda Landowska gave a memorable revival of it in the Forties in New York, which was broadcast. The performance here is notable not only for Levin’s scintillating playing, but also for Hogwood’s superb command of the orchestra. When the trumpets and timpani enter it is a truly thrilling moment.

The Rondo, K386, has come down to us incomplete, and the reconstructed orchestral part is by Charles Mackerras. For the concertos a new text was used – to be published soon by Breitkopf & Härtel – based on authentic sources, which include an innovation taken from Mozart’s corrected manuscript of K415 at Salzburg: a division of the string parts into tutti and solo, in other words with full band or with first desks only. Here, the new text supersedes the Neue Mozart Ausgabe’s supposedly definitive score.

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The recording, made at the Henry Wood Hall in London, is all we have come to expect from the Decca teams. In short, a superb achievement for all concerned, also reflected in the excellent notes by Cliff Eisen. HC Robbins Landon