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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto no. 21 in C K.467
Piano Concerto no. 22 in E flat K482
Annie Fischer, piano
Philharmonia Orchestra/Wolfgang Sawallisch
Recorded 28th February and 1st, 2nd and 10th March 1958, No. 1 Studio, Abbey Rd., London. ADD


Annie Fischer, the great Hungarian pianist, who died in 1995, was in her mid-forties when these superlative performances were committed to disc. She was at the height of her powers, and had as her collaborators in Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Philharmonia. In Sawallisch she had a conductor who could respond whole-heartedly to her aesthetic and as for the Philharmonia this was certainly one of the best orchestras in the world at that time.

The trick with Mozart’s concertos is to be subtle without ever being twee, and Fischer knew exactly how to do that. As the liner-notes point out, her first entry in the C major concerto is masterly, sidling in almost apologetically amidst the woodwind conversation. The middle movement of each concerto is probably quite a bit slower than we have come to expect of a Mozart Andante these days. But that’s no bad thing, for Fischer and Sawallisch are able to give the music space and time without undue indulgence. This performance of the ‘dream Andante’ of the C major, long before Elvira Madigan was thought of, is perfection; the dreaminess is there, captured with ineffable beauty, but so are the uncomfortable twinges of realism that keep intruding. The finale of K.467 is again on the slow side of Mozart’s prescribed Allegro assai vivace, but has everything you would want in terms of wit and élan.

K.482 is one of the very finest of the Mozart keyboard concertos, with its majestic opening Allegro, its surprisingly dour Andante, and the serenade-like episode that interrupts the jolly finale. Fischer is devastating in the profoundly emotional solo passages of the Andante, and Sawallisch and the orchestra, particularly the fine woodwind soloists, respond magnificently.

The recording was in the absolute top class for its day, and this excellent transfer job by EMI means that it has come up sounding fresh as a daisy, and completely natural. An issue for which the word ‘great’ is in no way misplaced.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

EMI Great Recordings of the Century
An issue for which the word ‘great’ is in no way misplaced. ... see Full Review

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