Mozart: Piano Concertos: No. 22 in E flat, K482; No. 25 in C, K503

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Piano Concertos: No. 22 in E flat, K482; No. 25 in C, K503
PERFORMER: David Fray (piano); Philharmonia Orchestra/Jaap van Zweden
CATALOGUE NO: 641 9640

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David Fray is a lyricist in a thousand. Yet for all his innate sense of finesse, he seldom misses an opportunity to stress the music’s symphonic breadth. Unobtrusively animating the left hand, he provides structural depth as well as courtly accompaniment, often underlining the rhythmic pillars with sonorously articulated basses, which are sometimes 
doubled at the octave. 

At the other end of the expressive spectrum, some may well find him excessively delicate – almost to the point of mannerism. It seems churlish to complain of too much beauty, but there are occasional hints of costume jewellery that detract, for me, from Mozart’s uniquely subtle brand of virility – nowhere more evident than in these two great works (whose scale transcends their already impressive dimensions).

The pervasive operatic element in Mozart’s Concertos is often presented (here very well indeed) primarily in terms of dialogue – between the soloist and orchestra, and with its constituent families, most notably the wind. 

To a certain extent, most of Mozart’s concertos can be seen, dramaturgically, as variations on a theme of Figaro. What these performances with Fray convey quite strongly is a sense that there’s an allegorical subtext in which the individual (the soloist) confronts, and is eventually reconciled with, society at large (the orchestra – presented here with splendid symphonic grandeur).

Fray’s ‘individual’ is of such supreme sophistication and refinement that he could hardly be mistaken for the common man, but then that can hardly have been his intention. All in all, this is sublime entertainment, whose undercurrents of pathos are neither neglected nor exaggerated. Jeremy Siepmann