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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K467
Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K491
Piotr Anderszewski (piano & director)
Sinfonia Varsovia
Rec 7-9 August 2001, Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw
VIRGIN CLASSICS VC 545504 2 [59.30]

 

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Mozart's most important orchestral music of his years in Vienna came in the form of piano concertos, which allowed him to make contact with his public in the dual role of performer and composer. In a sense the recent trend of pianist-directors has encouraged the notion of the visionary artist parading his talents in a more intense way than might otherwise be possible.

Such thoughts come naturally to mind on hearing these highly characterful performances, in which Piotr Anderszewski and the Sinfonia Varsovia project a stronger personality of their own than is often found in recent performances. This can sometimes mean that dangerous risks are taken, and there is no question that this pianist has very much his own way with the music. But no matter, since great music is always greater than any one performance of it, and in any case engagement with a fine interpretation will always, at the time at any rate, give the listener the impression that the music could not possibly be otherwise.

The C minor Concerto, K491, is placed first on the programme and is the most uniquely characterful of the two performances, in the sense outlined above. The opening orchestral tutti is beautifully played and scrupulously phrased, and the point is reinforced by the solo entry, for which Anderszewski takes a subtly slow tempo, thereby making a special impression. This is the largest orchestra Mozart ever used in a concerto, with full double woodwind, horns, trumpets and drums, in addition to the usual strings. But for much of the time the minor key atmosphere of the music is hushed rather than outgoing, so that when climaxes are reached the impact is all the greater.

The slow movement has a beautifully judged line, while the variation finale (perhaps Mozart's greatest concerto finale) has both unity and variety. This is a really interesting interpretation, and if it seems romanticised then it takes its cue from the nature of the music itself.

The C major Concerto, K467 is also very interesting in this performance, its fundamental character apparent from another finely judged opening tutti. In both works Anderszewski plays his own cadenzas, and he does so with characteristic abandon and emotional freedom. There is no attempt at quasi-authentic restraint, but rather an exploration of the expressive and technical potential of the music as he feels it. As a listening experience it is nothing if not striking, but the question remains 'how often would one want to hear it?' That comes down to the nature of record collecting, of course. If one's collection is small and listening rotates around a few much loved discs, then better to hear a sensitively played, more conventionally 'Mozartean' performance, like those of Murray Perahia or Clifford Curzon, but if you want to explore the potential of this wonderful music and hear more and more in it with each engagement, then this is well worth hearing and owning.

The recorded sound is quite splendid, enhancing the subtleties of the piano-orchestra relationship, which is the ultimate test in this repertoire.

Terry Barfoot

 


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