Previously released volumes in this
Volume I: Concertos Nos. 9, 12, 26.
Volume II: Concertos Nos. 1, 4, 23.
Volume III; Concertos Nos. 6, 19, 20.
Comparison Video Recordings:
Concerto No. 8 Christian Zacharias,
Gelmetti, Stuttgart RSO Laserdisk
Comparison Audio Recordings:
Concerto No. 5 Murray Perahia, ECO [ADD]
Sony MK 37267
Concerto No. 5 Han, Freeman, Brilliant
Concerto No. 5 Roderick Simpson, synthesizer.
Initium CD A007
Concerto No. 8 Murray Perahia, ECO Sony
Concerto No. 17 Murray Perahia, ECO
[ADD] Sony MK36686
Concerto No. 17 Artur Rubinstein, Alfred
Wallenstein, [ADD] RCA SO RCA/BMG/Sony
Concerto No. 17 Matthias Kirschenreit,
Beerman, Bamberger SO/Bayerische PO.
Arte Nova 82876 64008 2
Concerto No. 27 Christian Zacharias,
Wand, EMI CZS 7 67561-2
Concerto No. 27 Christian Zacharias,
Lausanne CO MDG 340 1182-2
Concerto No. 27 Daniel Barenboim, BPO
Warner Apex 2564 60679-2
Concerto No. 27 Murray Perahia, COE
Sony SK 46485
These are in many ways
excellent video recordings of these
concertos. First, the musical performances
are of the highest standard, in at least
one case the very best available. Also
the video direction concentrates on
presenting the players making music;
there are no sunsets or flowers or adorable
children, nor even abstract, out-of-focus
shots of the musical instruments. Finally,
the sound quality is first rate, better
than CD sound.
This idea of a complete
set of Mozart concertos with various
conductors and soloists is not new.
Vox issued such a set on LPs many years
ago, of uneven quality. The best sound-only
complete recordings of the Mozart concertos
to my taste are the Perahia/ECO on Sony
and the Han/Freeman on Brilliant Classics.
Jeffrey Tate has issued a complete set
with Mitsuko Uchida, but to my taste
Uchida adopts the wrong style for Mozart,
playing with too much rubato and pedal;
I do not like any of the performances
in that set - Uchida appears on Volume
1 of this series, however. So it is
a pleasure to see Tate, a superb conductor
with many excellent recordings to his
credit, here paired with a pianist with
a style that better fits the music.
No. 5" was in fact Mozartís first
original concerto, the first four being
arrangements of other menís solo keyboard
music written in collaboration with
his father, composition exercises really.
In 1773 Mozart was unfamiliar with the
fortepiano and the work was certainly
written at the harpsichord,* The original
score was for small orchestra and included
baroque trumpets clearly marked in the
score "clarino" which means
that they are to be played to sound
an octave higher than noted, with the
result that the whole piece takes on
an excited air of Baroque celebration.
In the ensuing years this work was one
of Mozartís favorite among his concertos
and he played it on the fortepiano many
times during his concert career. Some
time during the next decade he wrote
out some additional wind parts. In 1782
he wrote what most critics believe was
a new last movement and from there on
he played the work with this new scoring
and the new movement, which has since
come down to us as the Rondo in C, K382,
now usually considered a separate work.
Mozart also wrote out cadenzas for the
first two movements and for K382, but
not for the original last movement which
most critics believe he no longer played.
Most critics believe that it was also
at this time that the original clarino
trumpet scoring began to be ignored
and the trumpets played at noted pitch.
I note that in this recording there
are four trumpets playing at noted pitch.
Two trumpets would be sufficient if
they played clarino range.
Almost all modern recordings
use the original last movement. Also
most modern editions extend the range
of the keyboard part to fit a modern
piano, since Mozart had had to cramp
some phrases in the original to get
them to fit the smaller keyboard of
the harpsichord. Therefore it is possible
for various modern performances of this
work to use different scores. Roderick
Simpson in his synthesizer performance
correctly presents the full original
scoring, utilizing a small fortepiano
for the keyboard part. In the case of
this video recording one can see that
there are no flutes playing, but two
oboes and two horns.
Malcolm Frager has
recorded a fine performance of the fiendishly
difficult Strauss Burleske, and
watching him perform Mozart with a pixie
grin on his face shows that his awesome
virtuosity is joined with a sense of
humor as well as a sense of proportion.
He scales his large technique perfectly
to fit this music. Mark Andreae is magisterial
and gives the music the proper festive
mood, emphasizing the trumpets.
The Concerto No. 8
was composed by Mozart in April of 1776
specifically to be easy to play and
to memorize, in the "easy"
white-key key of C Major, for use by
his students, and it was also used by
Mozartís sister for her keyboard students.
To my mind, Christian Zacharias is the
finest Mozart ensemble interpreter of
our time and this version of No. 8 on
12" laserdisk has long been my
favorite performance. Also on that laserdisk
is No. 17, but that recording has not
at this time been scheduled for release
as part of this series. As both of our
laserdisk players have required repairs,
and as one now begins to show clear
signs of wearing out, and, as a new
one, if available, would cost as much
as five DVD players, it is good to see
this classic performance now available
on the new DVD format which looks like
it will last at least as long as I do.
Here the chubby, jolly,
Gelmetti was one of the biggest hams
on the podium, but later after he lost
weight his demeanor became more rugged,
suggesting perhaps that he had been
ill, or fallen in love, which is much
the same thing. For whatever reason,
in his most recent photographs he bears
a striking resemblance to Valery Gergiev.
To anyone who lived
in Los Angeles during his tenure as
music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Orchestra the name Alfred Wallenstein
was always spoken with a sneer as his
regime was distinguished by consistent
tediously mediocre and incompetent playing.
Even guest conductors found the orchestra
often unable to play together or in
tune, never mind with anything resembling
emotion or style**. Yet for recordings,
particularly with Artur Rubinstein,
Wallenstein drew upon previously unseen
resources and those who know only his
recordings must think of him as not
merely competent but distinguished.
May we all be so fortunate as to be
judged by history solely by the best
that we can do.
At any rate in his
collection of late Mozart piano concertos,
including No. 17, recorded by RCA, Rubinsteinís
legendary geniality is combined with
his superb sense of drama to produce
consistent delight and brilliance. His
piano tone is exactly right, the interaction
with the orchestra exemplary. Many will
find these performances their overall
favorites and everyone, even original
instrument snobs, will find them enjoyable
and should seek them out.
For those who prefer
a more authentic approach, the Matthias
Kirschenreit disk of No. 17 on Arte
Nova is also exceptional in both sound
and performance. This six year old disk
is labelled "Volume 1" but
with no follow-up we must be pessimistic
about hearing any more Mozart from these
From Mozartís first
concerto to his last: The Concerto No.
27, K595, was finished months before
his death and his performance of it
was his final public appearance. Here
the only textual problem is six bars
(47 - 53) in the first movement which,
due to a printerís misinterpreting one
of Mozartís marginal corrections, were
not included in the published edition;
it was not restored until the Neue
Mozart Ausgabe. We may be sure that
a performance which includes these bars,
such as this one, is from a carefully
has shown himself to be, among many
other talents, a skilled Mozart performer,
and here we see his minimalist, workmanlike
stick technique working to great advantage.
Aleksandar Madzar mugs shamelessly for
the camera, but comes across as a pleasant,
earnest young man, and plays magnificently
and with great feeling with nothing
Ė audible - overdone.
Comparing the handful
of recordings of Concerto No. 27 in
my recommended list is like comparing
rubies and sapphires, a task I am not
sure Iím up to. All of these recordings
contain the elusive bars updated from
the Neue Mozart Ausgabe. I confess
a slight preference for the Zacharias
MDG disk both in sound and performance.
This is labeled "Volume 1."
Volume 2 was released in 2005, but there
is no hint of a Volume 3 or any further
numbers in the set which, if completed,
would seem to be the best Mozart Piano
Concerto series ever done. However,
we must also watch for the stalled Matthias
Kirschenreit set on Arte Nova. If the
promise of his No. 17 is ever carried
forth that may end up being the best
Mozart Piano Concerto set ever done.
The hapless collector would have no
choice but to buy them both. After you
buy this DVD, of course.
*So says John Irving,
Mozartís Piano Concertos, 2003,
Ashgate Publishing Ltd., ISBN 0-7546-0707-0.
"Not so," says Roderick Simpson,
"the Mozarts had a pianoforte in
the household from 1772. Irving, et
al., have misinterpreted the early letters."
Simpson also avows that the Rondo K
382 was not intended to replace the
original third movement, but to serve
as an encore and be played after the
concertoís original three movements.
Simpson is an oboist, and points out
that oboists can also play flute, and
did so in Vienna at this time, so the
so called additional flute parts were
to be played by the oboists already
sitting in the orchestra. Simpson also
insists that clarino playing was common
in Vienna until 1800. Check out his
**The coming of Eduard
van Beinum was a sunrise, a revolution,
a revelation. Those same orchestral
players all of a sudden sounded GOOD!
Yet we noticed that when performing
with the LAPO van Beinum used slower
tempi than when recording the same pieces
with the Concertgebouw.