Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos in E flat, K365; Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat, K595; Sonata for Two Pianos in D, K448

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: BBC Legends
WORKS: Concerto for Two Pianos in E flat, K365; Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat, K595; Sonata for Two Pianos in D, K448
PERFORMER: Clifford Curzon, Benjamin Britten (piano); ECO/Daniel Barenboim (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBCL 4037-2 ADD mono/stereo
The practice of trawling the archives of radio stations for tapes to make cheap ‘historic’ CDs is fraught with the danger that more or less ordinary occasions will be elevated to extraordinary occasions simply because of the names attached to them. Happily, those who administer the BBC Legends series have studiously avoided the temptation to be less than scrupulous in their selection of material. This disc is devoted to the art of Clifford Curzon, and includes performances of the E flat Double Piano Concerto (with Daniel Barenboim as the second pianist) and the B flat Concerto, K595, given at the 1979 Proms. It is hard to contain one’s praise for Curzon’s artistry. In his touch, in his whole approach, he has the full measure of Mozart, treading that thin line where external elegance and internal expressivity overlap, making the music sound easily eloquent and brilliant but never shallow or facile. The sound quality is of course not perfect, and the audience is extremely noisy even for a Prom, but none of that matters. The sense of something special happening is a genuine one, as it is indeed for the exuberant, even slightly hard-pushed reading of the two-piano Sonata that Curzon gave with Benjamin Britten at the Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh back in 1960. It’s not just two great musicians making music together that we hear, but the very local ambience of Britten’s home-grown festival in those far-off days, and of course the sense of spontaneous joy experienced by two great musicians playing together far from the madding metropolitan crowds. Stephen Pettitt

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