Mozart, Mendelssohn

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn,Mozart
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K467. Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor; Capriccio brillant in B minor
PERFORMER: Helen Huang (piano); New York Philharmonic/Kurt Masur
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-15869-2
Although it contains moments of embryonic poetry, Helen Huang’s playing here displays the brashness and interpretative innocence of youth. Some listeners may enjoy hearing the Mozart Concerto, K467, treated as a bona fide display vehicle (Masur’s support makes the best of this approach), but despite Huang’s fine initial exploration of expressive shadings in the famous Andante, the sunny forthrightness she dispenses in the outer movements becomes one-dimensional on repeated hearings. So too is her Mendelssohn Concerto, monochromatic in its rhythmically straitjacketed spiritedness. Huang’s technique is clean, her figuration secure and agile, but she’s not ideally resourceful in sorting out textural layers of the piano writing; by the end, one feels battered by an onslaught of brilliant but undifferentiated notes rather than charmed by the music. Part of the problem may be the clear but all-purpose piano tone, which also hampers the opening solo of Mendelssohn’s Capriccio brillant (where harp-like arpeggios undergird a sustained melody that on this occasion makes little effect). One is left to ponder again the wisdom of the decision to turn Huang into a major recording artist at so early a stage in her career. David Breckbill