Mozart Piano Concertos

COMPOSERS: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
LABELS: Bridge
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart Piano Concertos
WORKS: Piano Concertos Nos. 17 (K453) & 22 (K482)
PERFORMER: Vassily Primakov (piano); Odense Symphony Orchestra/Scott Yoo


Half a century ago, even such incisive pianists as Rudolf Serkin and Annie Fischer felt moved to play the first movement of No. 22, K482 with an attitude of reserved spirituality. How times have changed! Vassily Primakov takes his cue from the bracing, martial character of the initial orchestral fanfare, and inventively finds in the right-hand filigree some impulsive quirkiness that is stimulating and appealing.

Of course he also offers numerous tender, introspective touches, but, in any case, not since Murray Perahia’s Sony recording have I heard the piano part in this movement sound more interesting and alive. I also like the smugly cheerful tone Primakov adopts in the finale. Unfortunately, the inflections of phrase and variety of articulations offered by the Odense Symphony Orchestra under Scott Yoo sound a bit finicky. In No. 17, K453 – that serene hymn to subtle ambiguity – the orchestral playing is too matter-of-fact to hint at magical depths, and in the presto coda of its finale, Yoo is rhythmically rigid.

Primakov plays Saint-Saëns’s cadenzas in K482, Mozart’s in K453. Bridge’s recorded sound is firm but slightly dry, and the piano sometimes seems a bit isolated from the orchestra.


David Breckbill