Derek Han, Paul Freeman, Philh. O. Brilliant
Mitsuko Uchida, Jeffrey Tate, English
Christian Zacharias, Günter Wand,
Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Elsewhere I have praised
Zachariasís playing of the Mozart concerti
and piano quartets very highly. I was
referred to him by friends who are Mozart
scholars and who were literally knocked
out of their chairs by his performance
of #20. Zacharias plays Mozart the way
a flower blooms, so naturally and authentically.
Zacharias has performed with, and without,
a conductor and it seems to make no
difference to his interpretation. Barenboim,
who is one of the great musical performers
of this or any age is more consciously
a showman. He performs Mozart, Beethoven,
Wagner, Brahms, etc., with consistent
brilliance and skill.
This superlative recording
of the last two concerti is remarkable
for its perfect balance of sound and
style; By comparison, Han/Freeman play
with a little less assurance, but with
more youthful enthusiasm. Han/Freemanís
orchestral perspective has the piano
closer which also adds a sense of immediacy,
making the Barenboim with its very realistic
concert hall acoustic sound by comparison
more remote, more formal.
Uchida plays these
concerti on a giant modern Steinway
piano perhaps as Beethoven would play
them, perhaps as Liszt played them*.
Every resource of her huge instrument
is brought to the service of the music,
and the result is something that would
probably startle if not bewilder Mozart
himself. Certainly many people will
prefer her approach to any other.
Mozart left full cadenzas
for the first and third movements of
K.595 only, and Barenboim uses these.
His cadenzas for the other concerto
movements are interesting if a little
blatant in their quotations from The
Marriage of Figaro.
The movie Amadeus
contained many errors, some of them
deliberate, but it did get one thing
right: there were people who didnít
like Mozart, and for good and sufficient
reason. People like that alive today
may, for the same reasons, not like
Zachariasís performances. There is something
of Mozart the brat in them. Barenboim
and Han are placed stylistically between
these two extremes and, of the two,
Barenboim is slightly the more skilled
showman, and for most people his performances
will be the most satisfactory.
*It is difficult for
us today to realise that in his time
Liszt was considered the finest interpreter
of Mozart in the world. Liszt had bought
Mozartís piano to practice on and was
so obviously the choice for the 1856
memorial concerts in Vienna that the
few who disagreed, i.e., Clara Schumann,
could be dismissed as cranks.