In the interesting
notes with this disc, Bohdan Pociej
writes perceptively of the joy that
permeates Mozart’s music as being ‘…
unrivalled by any other joy in the history
of music’. Hard to disagree, particularly
in performances as utterly beguiling
as these. The mystery is why it has
taken nearly ten years to get
this disc published – that does seem
an extraordinarily long time to wait.
I have no answer to that yet, but shall
try to find out from CD Accord.
In the meantime, suffice
it to say that from the very first notes
of K.453, this is an exceptional issue.
Of course what we hear first is the
orchestra, not the soloist, and Jan
Stanienda and his players give the music
an infectious and irresistible ‘lift’,
aided by a perfect recording. The microphones
are close enough to capture every last
detail of orchestration, yet are never
‘up the noses’ of the players. And what
players! ‘Leopoldinum’ is the adopted
name of the Wrocław
Chamber Orchestra from Poland, named
after, as the booklet tells us, Aula
Leopoldina at Wrocław University,
the glorious Baroque hall where the
orchestra gives its concerts. It is
particularly satisfying that every player
in the orchestra is listed by
name in the booklet, for they are all
superb artists, and, after all, this
music is undoubtedly chamber music on
a large scale.
to the soloist, Ewa Pobłocka plays
this music in the best possible way,
that is to say in a completely natural
manner totally devoid of sentimentality
or ‘tweeness’, yet always subtle and
sensitive to its inner workings. She
is playing on a modern Steinway (don’t
be confused, by the way, by Pobłocka’s
billing as ‘fortepian/piano’ on the
disc’s case – the ‘fortepian’ bit
is clearly for our Polish readers only!),
but has no difficulty in finding the
right level for her playing. When it
comes to balance in these concertos,
it is so often the development sections
that suffer. This is where the instrumentation
is often at its most detailed, with
the soloists often merely accompanying
with passage-work of scales and arpeggios.
Sadly, few pianists and even fewer producers
seem aware of that, and focus on the
soloist’s subordinate work, at the expense
of the real business elsewhere. No danger
of that here, and it’s wonderful!
Incidentally, the K.467
concerto contains, of course, that
Andante. No amount of vulgar popularisation
can take away the allure of this movement,
and I have to say that this CD contains
the most magical version I have heard.
The secret, as so often, is the tempo,
which is just a tiny bit slower
than usual, so that the music floats
in a truly dream-like way.
Of course this is an
exceptionally competitive field, with
so many distinguished performers on
modern and period instruments represented
on disc. Yet I believe that this is
worthy to set alongside the very finest.
These performances made me aware, yet
again, that in Mozart’s concertos we
have some of the greatest treasures,
not just of music, but of the whole
of Western civilisation.
CD Accord catalogue