Mozart: Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in F, K37;Keyboard Concerto No. 2 in B flat, K39; Keyboard Concerto No. 3 in D, K40; Keyboard Concerto No. 4 in G, K41

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Decca L’Oiseau-Lyre
WORKS: Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in F, K37;Keyboard Concerto No. 2 in B flat, K39; Keyboard Concerto No. 3 in D, K40; Keyboard Concerto No. 4 in G, K41
PERFORMER: Robert Levin (harpsichord); Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: 466 131-2
On the reasonable grounds that Mozart is not known to have played the fortepiano by the time he wrote these works at age 11, Robert Levin opts to play Mozart’s first four concertos on harpsichord. This is a slightly inconsistent solution given that in other contexts (cf his Hänssler recording of Bach’s English Suites) Levin has been more than happy to perform harpsichord music on (modern) piano. But even if this disc consequently occupies a special category vis-à-vis its competitors, it adequately perpetuates the appeal of the liveliest (in both character and interest) recorded cycle of Mozart’s concertos, in which Levin’s policy of improvising cadenzas, varying repeats, and providing graceful garlands of figuration in bare spots has a way of making even the composed passages seem more immediate and spontaneously realised. Levin and Hogwood are particularly convincing in the brilliant D major work (K40); the slow movement of K39, however, with its accompanimental repeated notes and chords that anticipate salient features in its famous counterpart from K467, becomes tiresomely aggressive on harpsichord. On two counts these concertos are not ‘genuine’ Mozart: they are works his father helped him to arrange and recompose from keyboard sonata movements by German composers active in Paris in the 1760s (mostly Honauer, Eckard, Raupach, and Schobert). But since Mozart continued to perform these works long after they were written, they remain useful in tracing the development of his unique mastery of concerto form. David Breckbill

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