Mozart: Piano Concertos: No. 20 in D minor, K466; No. 23 in A, K488

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Oehms
WORKS: Piano Concertos: No. 20 in D minor, K466; No. 23 in A, K488
PERFORMER: Lars Vogt (piano); Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg/Ivor Bolton
CATALOGUE NO: OC 727

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For more than three decades the legendary American pianist Leon Fleisher suffered from a neurological disorder that affected two of the fingers on his right hand, forcing him to restrict himself to the left-handed repertoire. Now in his eighties, however, he has made a recovery and is enjoying something of an Indian summer of creativity.

These new ‘live’ Mozart performances may not be the most elegant you’ll ever hear, but they are shot through with wisdom and insight. Fleisher’s eloquently poetic account of the melancholy Adagio from the A major Concerto, K488 – Mozart’s only piece in F sharp minor – is worth the price of admission on its own. His performance is a touch more heart-on-sleeve than Lars Vogt’s, though Vogt’s pianissimo reprise of the main siciliano-like theme is in itself deeply affecting.

There’s much to enjoy, too, in Fleisher’s account, partnered by Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, of Mozart’s own two-piano arrangement of the Triple Concerto, K242. It’s good to hear its finale for once taken at a graceful tempo.

Lars Vogt’s performance of K488 is a real pleasure, with playing of genuine sensitivity, and a finale that sparkles as much as it should. By comparison, the D minor Concerto K466 is disappointing. Not that Vogt’s playing is ever less than thoroughly musical, but there are times when it seems a shade too rarefied, leaving Mozart’s demonic side in short supply.

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That’s particularly true of the slow movement’s stormy central episode, and much of the finale. Beethoven’s cadenza for the opening movement has almost become an integral part of the piece, but Vogt supplies his own instead, and it makes for a refreshing change. In the case of the finale, Beethoven’s contribution is much weaker, and Vogt in any case contents himself with a brief lead-in to the coda. Ivor Bolton and the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra provide stylish support throughout. Misha Donat