Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


Piano Concerto no. 24 in C minor
, K491
Piano Concerto no. 27 in B flat major, K595
Robert Casadesus (piano)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Dimitri Mitropoulos (K491); Carl Schuricht (K595)
Orfeo C 536 001 B [58.33]

These remastered mono recordings were made at the Salzburg Festivals of 1956 and 1961. They capture the artistry of one of the great Mozart players, in sensitive performances which take advantage of every opportunity to allow the eloquent lyricism of this music make a telling impression. On both occasions the orchestra was the Vienna Philharmonic, but the insert notes don't make it at all clear who conducted which performance. My guess is Mitropoulos in 1956, Schuricht in 1961.

What is certainly not in doubt is that the recorded sound is far better for the later, 1961, performance (K595) than it is for the earlier one. In truth the great C minor Concerto suffers considerably from the lack of tonal richness, the constricted dynamic range and the deadpan acoustic. For this tragic masterpiece is intensely dramatic, and here everything is concerned with inward sensitivity and there is no drama. To some extent this is also down to the playing of Casadesus, who imbues the music with all the subtle introspection of chamber music. But the Concerto hardly comes to life, and his interpretation loses a lot because the sound is so one-dimensional.

The B flat Concerto is more successful. For one thing, the sound is better; for another, the piece suits Casadesus splendidly. But there remains greater range and vitality in the same pianist's studio recording with George Szell (for CBS). Therefore the verdict on this issue has to be that it makes an interesting, but not a compelling, addition to the catalogue.

Terry Barfoot

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