A fascinating idea.
Not to bung three Mozart piano concertos
on a DVD, of course, but rather to juxtapose
three very different soloists. The problem
comes with which order one should put
them in. Euroarts opted to put best
first, second best second and Francesch
last. This product exudes the air of
ongoing interpretative decrescendo.
Effectively, one could switch off after
the 'Jeunehomme', unless the pull of
seeing Hampton Court Palace is too great.
Uchida's Mozart is
well-known. Many love it, a possibly
lesser number don't, finding it rather
over-delicate. Jeffrey Tate elicits
a big-boned sound from his orchestra,
muscular and exciting. The two interpreters
spark off each other, their differences
offering fertile ground rather than
conflict. So it is that solo-accompaniment
dialogues are a consistent delight -
an essential in this particular concerto.
Tate's dark shading for the slow movement
speaks of an undercurrent of drama that
indeed surfaces intermittently. A nice
moment of camera work, too ... the camera
pans across the first violins, landing
on Uchida just as she takes over the
phrase. Lovely. A fast, buzzing finale
continues the delight, Uchida's fingerwork
ever-excellent. The orchestra almost
matches her in sheer joie-de-vivre.
Only the occasional sync-slip detracts
from a charming account. Uchida, by
the way, is as mobile as ever throughout.
Ashkenazy in Hampton
Court Palace has an RPO on top form.
The orchestra clearly responds to him.
I wonder if this is one of Ashkenazy's
favourites? I remember hearing a Radio
3 broadcast of him directing this work
- Philharmonia, I believe, maybe early
1980s? His playing is rather dainty,
his directing characterised by minimal
gesture; sometimes he appears to be
wafting in a Mozartian breeze rather
than actually conducting! Ashkenazy's
approach means the cadenza is like listening
to him tread on eggshells.
The slow movement is
better, nicely shaped and with real
concentration. Tidy as ever, it leads
to a finale wherein Ashkenazy is prone
to push accents rather harshly. Nice
enough overall, Ashkenazy nevertheless
forms a 'bridge' between the excellence
of Uchida and the greyness of Francesch.
biggest break was probably appearing
on a Bernstein-conducted Les Noces,
joined by Argerich, Zimerman and Katsaris.
A Kontrapunkt artist, he presents Mozart's
K537 here in a literal, plonky manner
- he actually looks awkward and stolid,
too. There is little fantasy here, more
rigidity and turgidity. Even the inclusion
of Edwin Fischer's Beethovenian cadenza
- albeit with the occasional Impressionist
wash - cannot raise the interest level
particularly. The slow movement is quite
simply nondescript - read completely
uninvolving. The celebratory playing
of the orchestra in the finale only
points out Francesch's off-putting stabbing
of accents. The applause is muted, deservedly.
Never mind, it was
nice to see Gerd Albrecht in action.