Something about the key of D major seems to trigger off Mitsuko Uchida's adrenalin. The energy level in the Rondo and the earlier of the sonatas here is accordingly high, and…she has the technique and temperament to make musical sense of her chosen tempos… It is the long variation movement concluding the D major Sonata…where Uchida achieves marvels of shading within a steadily maintained basic pulse… B flat major draws more serenity out of Uchida. In the Sonata, K570, her energy is applied in all the right places and her response to the tonal scheme of the first movement development is especially acute.
The three sonatas on this disc were all written in 1777-78, and mark Mozart's attainment of a new level of skill and sophistication in his writing for the piano. Uchida's accounts, recorded in 1985, midway through her survey of the composer's complete piano sonatas for Philips, are sympathetic and nicely shaped. Some pianists have found more vehemence and darkness in the A minor sonata, K. 310, and more elegance in the two major-key works, but the balanced, essentially lyrical approach Uchida brings to the music works very well. This is soulful playing, of an intimacy not often encountered these days, and the recording does it full justice.
Uchida's performances seem completely natural as if that is the way the performances were intended. Not a point of cunning escapes her. Yet there is never a trace of self-consciousness in her point-making, not even in the heightened intensity of the tragic B minor Adagio. It is Mozart at his purest.
Mitsuko Uchida is one of the finest interpreters of Mozart's piano music. She brings to this music a lightness and delicacy that fits it perfectly. This 5 CD set, which groups recordings made in the 1980s, includes all of Mozart's piano sonatas and one fantasia. This is not all of Mozart's piano music; one may regret that Phillips did not decide to go a bit further and include the rest of his piano music in this set.
Debussy's Études are really the only set that deserves to be put beside Chopin's. What makes them so special? Like his, they are truly "practice pieces," systematically exploring various aspects of keyboard technique. But at the same time, they are poetic works of art, full of fantasy, charm, and musical invention. Uchida's recording is almost universally regarded as the finest version of these works to appear in modern times. Her playing combines effortless virtuosity with pianistic precision, keeping the music's artistic and pedagogical tendencies in a state of exquisite tension. This disc also established Uchida's claim to be recognized as one of the most interesting and talented pianists now active. You need to hear it.
Mitsuko Uchida has been a committed exponent of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto for over a decade now. It is a work which remains controversial in its adaptation of the serial method to an almost Brahmsian harmonic palette, wedded to a formal approach that takes up the integrated design, and textural richness, of Schoenberg's pre-atonal works. Certainly in terms of the balance between soloist and orchestra, this recording clarifies the often capricious interplay to a degree previously unheard on disc (and most likely in the concert hall too).Interpretatively, it combines Pollini's dynamism, without the hectoring touch that creeps into the Adagio's climactic passages, and Brendel's lucidity, avoiding the deadpan feeling that pervades his final Giocoso.
Two great artists at the peak of their powers, the soprano Dorothea Röschmann and the pianist Dame Mitsuko Uchida perform songs by Schumann (Liederkreis, Op 39 and Frauenliebe und Leben) and Alban Berg (Seven Early Songs).
The greatest of Mozart's wind serenades and the toughest of Alban Berg's major works might seem an unlikely pairing, but in an interview included with the sleeve notes for this release, Pierre Boulez points up their similarities. Both works are scored for an ensemble of 13 wind instruments (with solo violin and piano as well in the Berg) and both include large-scale variations as one of their movements - and Boulez makes the comparisons plausible enough in these lucid performances. It's rare to hear him conducting Mozart, too, and if the performance is a little brisker and more strait-laced than ideal, the EIC's phrasing is a model of clarity and good taste. It's the performance of the Berg, though, that makes this such an important issue; both soloists, Mitsuko Uchida and Christian Tetzlaff, are perfectly attuned to Boulez's approach - they have given a number of performances of the Chamber Concerto before - and the combination of accuracy and textural clarity with the highly wrought expressiveness that is the essence of Berg's music is perfectly caught.