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CD Review

Wolfgang Mozart

Works for Piano & Orchestra

  • Piano Concerto #1 in F Major, K. 37 3,b
  • Piano Concerto #2 in B Flat Major, K. 39 3,b
  • Piano Concerto #3 in D Major, K. 40 3,b
  • Piano Concerto #4 in G Major, K. 41 3,b
  • Three Piano Concertos, K. 107 5,d
  • Piano Concerto #5 in D Major, K. 175 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #6 in B Flat Major, K. 238 1,a
  • Concerto for 3 Pianos, K. 242 2,4,c
  • Concerto for 3 Pianos, K. 242 (Version for 2 Pianos) 1,2,a
  • Piano Concerto #8 in C Major "Lützow", K. 246 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #9 in E Flat Major "Jeunehomme", K. 271 1,a
  • Concerto for 2 Pianos in E Flat Major, K. 365 1,2,a
  • Rondo for Piano & Orchestra in D Major, K. 382 1,a
  • Rondo for Piano & Orchestra in A Major, K. 386 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #11 in F Major, K. 413 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #12 in A Major, K. 414 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #13 in C Major, K. 415 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #14 in E Flat Major, K. 449 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #15 in B Flat Major, K. 450 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #16 in D Major, K. 451 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #17 in G Major, K. 453 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #18 in B Flat Major, K. 456 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #19 in F Major, K. 459 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #20 in D minor, K. 466 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #21 in C Major "Elvira Madigan", K. 467 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #22 in E Flat Major, K. 482 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #23 in A Major, K. 488 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #24 in C minor, K. 491 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #25 in C Major, K. 503 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #26 in D Major "Coronation", K. 537 1,a
  • Piano Concerto #27 in B Flat Major, K. 595 1,a
1 Alfred Brendel, piano
2 Imogen Cooper, piano
3 Ingrid Haebler, fortepiano
4 Katia & Marielle Labèque, pianos
5 Ton Koopman, harpsichord
a Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
b Capella Academica/Eduard Melkus
c Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Semyon Bychkov
d Amsterdam Baroque Ochestra
Decca Collectors Edition 4782695 13CDs
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon Japan

If you have the Phillips Complete Mozart Edition volume devoted to concertos, you won't need this sturdy new box, which has narly the same contents. Purely in terms of completeness, there are few rivals to this (now) Decca box. It contains all of the solo concertos with Alfred Brendel, the three J.C. Bach sonatas turned concertos (K. 107) with Ton Koopman, the early foursome with Ingrid Haebler, and all arrangements of the concertos for more than one piano. In terms of these last works, the Labèque sisters join Imogen Cooper for the three-piano concerto, and Cooper joins Brendel for both the two-piano concerto and the two-piano version of the concerto for three. Neville Marriner has the lion's share of the work on the podium, and if you find the box appealing on contents alone, stop reading and grab yourself a copy.

Quality is not an issue here, and so it comes down to picking the "best" versions of these works. Certainly, Brendel lacks a particularly beautiful tone, but he is a fine Mozart player all the same. And while Marriner's Academy is hardly the Vienna Philharmonic or Cleveland Orchestra, they are more than capable of delivering the goods in this music. The early concertos are all just fine, though no one should be buying anything for these slight pieces alone. The concertos for more than one piano always strike me as more of a fun novelty than anything else; they are easy enough that conductors often drop the baton and play along.

I find that the Mozart concertos are best when enjoyed by various artists and approaches, as few cycles have maintained consistent excellence over these 20-plus concertos. For sure, Brendel's better efforts rival any in the catalog, and have been reissued dozens of times. The less-significant concertos (like #13, for example) are a touch straight-laced. Brendel is not an artist known for "having fun" in terms of musical humor or charm, and although very elegant, even the later concertos could use a little more pep in their step. Still, many listeners will easily embrace the aristocratic seriousness of this project, and I can recommend this as a handy way to acquire all these works at once.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman

Trumpet