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Felicja Blumental – Friends and Rivals: Mozart and Clementi
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major Jeunehomme K271 (1777)
Muzio CLEMENTI (1752-1832)

Piano Concerto in C (? 1790-96)
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg/Leopold Hager, recorded Salzburg 1976 (Mozart)
Prague Symphony Orchestra/Alberto Zedda, recorded Salzburg 1980 (Clementi)
BRANA RECORDS BR 0008 [56.24]

Felicja Blumental (1908-1991) recorded a couple of albums under the generic title ‘Friends and Rivals’ which included Beethoven and Hoffmeister [review]and, as with this one, Mozart and Clementi. In their case friendship was rather less pronounced than rivalry though contempt might be a better way of describing Mozart’s position ("Clementi is a charlatan, like all Italians.")

A pupil of Drzewiecki in Warsaw, Blumental’s reputation has been based on her exhumation of unusual repertoire both from the classical period and the early nineteenth century. It was therefore good to have encountered recently her impressive Chopin – no sense of specious romanticisation – and her Mozart Concerto here. She earned a fine repute for her Mozart in Vienna and was active in the recording studios in Salzburg and also in Innsbruck among other places. The E flat major certainly bears out her reputation as a cultivated, idiomatic and sensitive musician. She’s accompanied by Leopold Hager, himself Salzburg-born, whose Mozart Concerto recordings with Engel will undoubtedly be better known than this 1976 traversal of the Jeune Homme with Blumental.

Coupled with it is the Clementi, a bigger, bolder and more attractive work than one might have imagined. I believe this performance has been available in a Vox Box but its appearance here is no less attractive – not least in uniting her with Alberto Zedda with whom she recorded a slew of similarly rare repertoire (Paisiello, Viotti, Koželuh, Vogler). Clementi’s Concerto in C certainly breathes Mozartian air albeit rather more constricted. It’s a degree more stiff, though has plenty of logic in its development and animation as well. The slow Adagio is the high point and is played by Blumental with great simplicity and directness. The finale is confident and strong.

The 1976 and 1980 recordings are not the last words in refinement but there’s plenty of clarity to compensate. Brana continues to do good work in restoring Blumental’s legacy to the catalogue.

Jonathan Woolf


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