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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major, K482 [36:28]
Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K 488 [27:07]
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor
Recorded in the Siemensvilla, Berlin, January 1989 DDD
WARNER ELATUS 2564 61174-2 [63:35]

Knowing full well that they were composed for entertainment, one has to dig a bit deeper for the genius in Mozartís concertos for piano, all of which were written for his own playing. In the case of the two works on this program, the innovation is in the orchestration. It is in this pair of concertos that Mozart gave his Viennese public, to whom he condescendingly referred as "the ignorant," a first taste of the clarinet as an orchestral instrument. It was here also that he continued his formal experimentation begun some years earlier in the serenades, with scoring an orchestral work as a dialogue between the winds and strings.

Having said all that, this performance by Daniel Barenboim and the Berliners still begs a few questions. To wit: Having already made a very fine set of Mozartís concertos a couple of decades ago, why did Maestro Barenboim feel compelled to have a second go at them? Further, what exactly could he and an orchestra like the Berlin Philharmonic possibly have new to say about music that is both overly familiar and overly recorded? And lastly, what would inspire the public to buy this disc in that it is not only one of dozens of available recordings, and a reissue of same to boot?

The first question is beyond me to answer. Had Barenboim played his first set under another conductorís baton, then a set, which featured his own interpretations of both the orchestral and soloistís parts, may have been justified. But he conducted and played both sets. And one must ask what someone whose repertoire is so varied and whose schedule is so demanding could have found different to say over the span of time between the two efforts.

As to question number two, the answer is: not much. In a word, both the solo part and the orchestral accompaniment are above reproach. The rule of the day is clean, classically styled and elegant playing on the part of all involved, with a mild bit of drama thrown in from time to time for good measure. If this is repertoire you need to fill out your collection, you certainly need look no further for excellent renditions. But should you buy this if you already own a recording with which you are happy? I would say no.

Which leads to the final question. The two pieces here are amongst the finest and most interesting of Mozartís works in the genre, if indeed there is any single work of Mozartís that stands above another. Moviegoers will certainly appreciate the lilting rondo from K. 482. But if you may be seeking some fresh, startling original interpretation, you will not find it here.

To summarize: a beautifully played, reasonably priced, well-documented corporate redundancy that you should be neither anxious nor ashamed to own.

Kevin Sutton

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