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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Crotchet

 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 Ė 1791)
Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major, K271 (1777)
Piano Concerto No. 19 in F major, K459 (1784)
Clara Haskil (piano)
Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra/Carl Schuricht.
Rec. Stuttgart-Degenloch on 23/5/52 (No. 9) and Schloss Ludwigsburg on 4/7/56 (No. 19). DDD
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 93.079 [57í44"]
 

 

With this disc, we are privileged to share delectable performances of two of Mozartís piano concerti recorded in the mid-1950s by Clara Haskil. An additional bonus is that the orchestra is conducted by Carl Schuricht. As far as Hänssler is concerned, it is Schuricht who is top-billed on this disc, but given the repertoire, I would suggest that it should be the other way round.

Haskilís performance of the K459 is well known, having been available for some time on a delectable DG disc, with the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Ferenc Fricsay. This is coupled with the K595 concerto and is in early stereo. If you have this disc then there is absolutely no reason for you to go for the Hänssler issue unless you desperately want this coupling with the K271 concerto, No. 9 in E Major.

Even this early concerto, not as popular as the later concerti, has also received two separate recordings by Clara Haskil, the first by Philips with the Lamoureux Orchestra conducted by Markevitch, and another (live) performance on Tahra with Eugen Jochum and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. I have not heard this latter performance although the earlier one is also very fine.

The repertoire certainly does not stretch the interpretative skills of Carl Schuricht who provides a very competent accompaniment to both concerti. The orchestra is also fine without having the tonal splendour of the Berlin Philharmonic, or for that matter, the Lamoureux Orchestra.

Haskilís playing is a model of how Mozart concerti should be played with delicacy and grace, backed up with power when needed.

The final element in the equation is the recording quality, and it is here that the current disc fails against the competitive versions. The overall sound is somewhat plummy, although it is clear enough to hear what is going on. Hänssler also list these recordings as DDD, which clearly is ridiculous Ė be warned.

Again, compared with the competitive versions, this release fails to compete successfully, and the accompaniment is not outstanding enough for it to cut the mustard. Given a total playing time of only 57 minutes, this disc does not deliver value for money, so I donít see who would really want it. The performances are superb though, so anyone wanting this combination can purchase safely, sure that they will hear excellent accounts of both works.

The only problem with this release is that it is not competitive with Haskilís own recordings of the same concerti.

I am not sure whether these competitive versions are available Ė all I can say is that they are listed in the RED listings, so you should be able to find these competitive issues.

 
John Phillips

 

 



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