Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 13, 18, 20 and 22

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ALBUM TITLE: Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 13, 18, 20 and 22
WORKS: Piano Concertos: No. 13 in C, K415; No. 18 in F flat, K456; No. 20 in D minor, K466; Nos. 22 in E flat, K482
PERFORMER: Finghin Collins (piano); RTÉ National Symphony orchestra


Finghin Collins has picked three of Mozart’s great concertos of the mid-1780s, plus the slightly earlier C major K415 – one in a triptych with which the composer made his Viennese concerto debut. Its high-spirited finale is interrupted by a slow episode in the minor, and, when it returns towards the end, Collins prolongs its tragic atmosphere in a mini-cadenza of his own that acts as a link to the final reprise of the perky rondo theme, so that a shadow lingers over the Concerto’s closing moments. There’s another slow episode in the finale of the Concerto K482, Mozart’s first to include clarinets in its scoring, and here Collins reduces the orchestral strings to a solo quartet plus double-bass – a nice touch that enhances the music’s intimacy. (He does the same in the penultimate variation of the slow movement in the Concerto K456, where the music turns poignantly from minor to major.)

It’s a refreshing change in the famous D minor Concerto K466 to hear, instead of the usual cadenzas by Beethoven, alternatives by the pianist Nikita Magaloff. His first-movement contribution is over-long, but the cadenza for the finale is a concise and demonic piece that sets off the major-mode resolution of the Concerto’s final pages very well. In the slow movement, Collins adds just the right amount of decoration to the solo part, as he does in the slow episode of K482’s finale. However many versions of these great works you already own, these new performances will give much pleasure.


Misha Donat