Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia should have recorded all of Mozart's piano music for four hands, which includes several neglected masterpieces. This disc reflects their ideal partnership, two artists of great sensitivity collaborating in performances that feature constant interplay of parts, alertness to each other's work, and superb playing as individuals. The Concerto for Two Pianos ripples along without a care in the world, just as it should, and the English Chamber Orchestra doesn't seem to care that nobody is conducting it. The pieces without orchestra are a bit less significant (as is the Concerto for Three Pianos), but the playing is so beautiful you won't care.
Incredibly the Bassoon Concerto was written when Mozart was only eighteen. By this stage in his life he had already written about thirty symphonies, a dozen string quartets and several Italian operas. The Flute Concerto is notable for the fact that Mozart did not like the flute as an instrument, famously stating 'whenever I have to write music for an instrument I dislike, I immediately lose interest'. In 1791, the last year of his life, Mozart wrote the Clarinet Concerto. Interestingly the Clarinet Concerto was not composed for a standard clarinet in A but for an instrument the court clarinettist Anton Stadler had developed which extended the instrument's lower range by four notes.
Recently, I have reviewed several CDs of works imitating Haydn. Although never reaching the large numbers of pseudo-Haydns, there arose, after Mozart’s death in 1791, a school of followers who produced symphonies, concertos, divertimentos and sonatas. Hence on this disc we have four clarinet works, three of them spuriously attributed to Mozart. The first is the Violin Concerto, K268, long regarded as doubtful, which is now presented as a clarinet concerto after a German manuscript, where it is arranged for clarinet and piano.
Six ans après le premier, un nouveau lot de six concertos, où tarte à la crème du "divin Mozart" ne résiste pas aux assauts de solistes et d'orchestres allumés. Six raretés, par ailleurs.
Clifford Curzon was among the finest English pianists of the twentieth century, known for his clear, ego-less performances of the German Classical and Romantic masterpieces. A quiet intellectual who nevertheless possessed a formidable technique, Curzon played everything from Mozart to Liszt with equal authority. His fans often cite this ability to emphasize the personality of each composer, rather than his own, as his most distinctive quality. Curzon recorded for the Decca label for over 30 years, leaving behind a modestly sized, but musically impressive catalog. His recordings of Mozart and Schubert are considered his best.
As one might have imagined, if Russian super-virtuoso-pianist-turned-conductor Mikhail Pletnev was going to try a couple of Mozart concertos on for size, it makes sense they'd be the D minor and the A major. With the D minor's driven outer movements and the A major's nocturnal central movement, these are two of Mozart's most nearly Romantic concertos. And, as a Russian super-virtuoso pianist, Pletnev naturally had to interpret them in a Romantic manner.
We are accustomed to looking to Pearl for gems from the past, and these transfers from previously unpublished live recordings of the 70-year-old Horszowski's Mozart, complete with crackles, muffed notes and coughing fits aplenty, do indeed sound as if they come from the dark backward and abysm of time. They date, in fact, only from 1962-72: near contemporaries of Barenboim's Mozart concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra. These performances, though, were taken from radio tapes and from a disc-cutting machine fed directly by the microphones in the Metropolitan Museum of Art where this concert series was held. They are alive with all the spontaneous enthusiasm of music-making which involved no record companies, no editing and no public relations.