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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 11 in F major, K.413 (1782-83)
Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major, K.482 (1785)
Matthias Kirschnereit, piano
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Frank Beermann
Recorded at Sinfonie an der Regnitz, Bamberg, March 2001 (K.482), January 2002 (K.413)
The Piano Concertos, Volume 5
ARTE NOVA CLASSICS 74321 98337-2 [57:56]


Although a leading pianist in Germany who has toured throughout the world, Matthias Kirschnereit is relatively unknown outside his native land. Born in Westphalia, Kirschnereit studied under Professor Kretschmar-Fischer at the Detmold Music Academy and also learnt from Claudio Arrau, Bruno Leonardo Gelber, Oleg Maisenberg and Murray Perahia. Kirschnereit has appeared in many of the important European concert halls and recently had successful debuts with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra Budapest. He has also been closely associated with the field of chamber music through Christian Tetzlaff and the Artemis Quartet. In addition to his Mozart recordings, Kirschnereit has recorded for Arte Nova a disc of Mendelssohnís solo piano music and a disc of early piano music by Brahms.

Volume 5 of Kirschnereitís Mozart series is my first exposure to his artistry, and I am entirely smitten with the performance of the Concerto in F major that reveals a pianist who is a perfect fit with Mozartís warm and loving utterances. However, the requirements of the Concerto in E flat major call for a more diverse musical approach, and Kirschnereit doesnít quite measure up to the strong competition from other recordings.

Kirschnereitís most compelling traits are the gentleness and warmth he communicates. This is most evident in the F major Concerto, one of three piano concertos that Mozart wrote during the winter of 1782-83. The F major is Mozart in his most gracious and warm attire, even the fast outer movements exuding a high degree of security, subtlety and love. Kirschnereit captures these qualities to perfection as well as conveying all the exuberance inherent in the work.

From the beginning of the F major Concertoís 1st Movement orchestral introduction, Frank Beermann and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra also have the full measure of the musicís vitality and rhythmic lift. I love how Kirschnereit quietly enters before the conclusion of the introduction, and the warm energy he releases throughout the 1st Movement is enchanting.

The performance of the 2nd Movement Larghetto might raise some eyebrows. Itís significantly quicker than the norm, and I must admit that the pacing is faster than we traditionally associate with a Larghetto marking. However, after spending some time with Kirschnereitís brisk gait that makes no sacrifice of tenderness, other versions such as from Andras Schiff on Decca now sound a little dreary. I should point out that the 2nd movement is the only one on the disc where tempos are beyond the usual boundaries, and Kirschnereit delivers a highly vibrant interpretation warranting the deviation from the norm.

The 3rd Movement is marked "Tempo di Minuetto" and is one of Mozartís less exuberant final movements amongst his piano concertos. Instead of great vitality, Mozart invests this with a subtlety and affection that Kirschnereit again conveys beautifully.

The Concerto in E flat major is quite different in a few respects from the F major. Mozart uses a greater array of orchestral resources, employing two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets and timpani. Another difference is that the E flat majorís 3rd movement Rondo is one of Mozartís most exuberant and carefree pieces of music. Lastly and most significant, the 2nd movement Adagio is a bleak and desperate piece in contrast to the warm and fuzzy feelings given off by the F majorís 2nd Movement.

Unfortunately, Kirschnereit and company do not meet the highest standards for the last two movements of the Concerto in E flat major. The tempo for the Adagio is a bit quick to fully convey the musicís dark intentions, and neither pianist nor orchestra offers the tremendous enthusiasm of the Rondo that can be found in many other versions including the Barenboim on EMI. Essentially, the warm and loving touch that works so well in the F major Concerto does not pay great dividends in the more diverse E flat major Concerto.

Given the super-budget pricing of Arte Nova discs, I definitely recommend Volume 5 for the wonderful performance of the Concerto in F major. If the prime reason for purchasing the disc is to listen to the more popular Concerto in E flat major, I advise looking elsewhere. Kirschnereitís affectionate approach does not carry well when the strongest statements of angst and exhilaration are needed. Assuming this fine young pianist turns the corner and starts widening his emotional content, we could some day be looking at a potent musical force.

Don Satz

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