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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Mozart - Piano Concertos: Vol. 8
Piano Concerto No.16 in D major KV 451 (1784) [23.34]
Piano Concerto No.24 in C minor KV 491 (1786) [31.20]
Matthias Kirschnereit (piano)
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Frank Beermann
rec. Sinfonie an der Regnitz, Bamberg; 6-8 Jan 2004 (K.491), 3-5 Oct 2004 (K.451). DDD.
ARTE NOVA 82876 64011 2 [55.54]

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Though the pianist and conductor here are new to me the orchestra is not, as of late the Bambergers are being recorded with increased frequency. Financially I’m sure it is good news for them, and they might count themselves lucky given the state of the recording industry. Artistically too, they’ve been gathering critical laurels from most quarters for their activities under Jonathan Nott. Their Mozart piano concerto series seems to have made somewhat less of a splash.

The reasons why are not hard to work out. The interpretation of both works is considered rather than impetuous, pleasant rather than wholly engaging. Beerman’s way with the works is plain, unadorned and down to business. In this he misses much of the inner workings of the orchestrations, making things less interesting than they might have been. The booklet note waxes lyrically about his experience and qualities – a pity that imagination seems to be short on the list, but this might develop slightly with age. In my experience though musical imagination is something you either have or you don’t. However, nothing he does is distasteful, vulgar or anti-Mozartian, so things might be worse. That goes for the other chief areas of interest too: orchestra and soloist.

Kirschnereit has been doing the rounds of Continental musical centres too. I would agree with the opinion quoted from Neue Zürcher Zeitung on his “technical assuredness and transparency” of playing, but not with that of Süddeutsche Zeitung in calling him a “Mozart interpreter of the highest rank”. For me in both concertos too many phrases go for nothing, and whilst the playing has a polish and evenness appropriate for Mozart, it is hardly more special than a decent graduate fresh from any self-respecting conservatoire might produce. He goes through the motions rather than deliver any special insights, which ultimately makes for an unmemorable experience – something I never enjoy saying in connection with Mozart.

All of this is a shame, because reading the fairly enthusiastic booklet note on the works one is fired up for a first rate performance that delivers everything these do not. It’s averagely recorded to my ears; the sound being clean and homogenised in a natural acoustic, yet not particularly distinctive in any way.

Then there’s the competition – any first rate recording and interpretation would blow this down in a second. Given that more recordings of Mozart concerti exist than I could wave a baton at, an industry that once again is celebrating the arrival of the Mozart cash cow must do better than this. Whereas other companies have back catalogue riches to exploit, Arte Nova’s no doubt well intentioned alternative is likely ever to remain a mere also-ran, exemplifying the more miss than hit results they have often achieved. Nice try, but no cigar.

Evan Dickerson




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