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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 26 in D, KV 537 (1788) [29:24]
Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat, KV 482 (1785) [38:30]
(arr. for chamber ensemble by Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837))
Fumiko Shiraga (piano); Henrik Wiese (flute); Peter Clemente (violin); Tibor Benyi (cello)
rec. 28-30 May 2005, Bavaria Music Studios, Munich. DDD
BIS BIS-CD-1537 [68:49]

This disc is the third in Shiraga’s BIS series presenting the Hummel arrangements of Mozart’s piano concertos. The sound quality is just what you’d expect from BIS: clear and intimate, as would be fitting for the pieces and their rather novel settings. Other similar recordings of chamber versions of Mozart’s piano concertos have come to light recently, most notably that of the Gaudier Ensemble on Hyperion records: concertos 11, 12 and 13 for piano and string quartet. The arrangements for Hyperion are Mozart’s own and reveal those works on an entirely different level. These arrangements on BIS, by Mozart’s student, show a deftly different approach

The two concertos - in their original guise scored for larger orchestral forces than those on Hyperion - are heard now in the very different context of chamber music. The more intimate scope suits these pieces well, and demands a different approach to the piano playing. Without the massed forces of an orchestra, the playing must naturally be less extroverted. In addition, the piano here also takes over some of the orchestral parts, indeed, to the point that Schott issued the unaltered piano part as an arrangement of the concerto for solo piano. This, therefore, requires additional adeptness on the part of the pianist, as the shifts from soloist to orchestral backing are swift. Shiraga handles these quick role-reversals with ease and sensitivity.

What we have here are reworkings of the concertos stripped down to bare essentials. Along the way Hummel has some rather surprising "revisions" with regard to introductions and cadenzas. Compared to Mozart’s own, these may appear a bit heavy-handed, representing to a great degree the change in musical taste between the composition and the arrangements — a span of some fifty years. The increased role of the piano is especially evident in KV 482, where the piano part departs most consistently from the score regarding ornamentation. The orchestral parts are revised simultaneously on occasion with the solo part. Following along with the score shows just how frequently these alterations occur. Still, though, the clarity of Mozart’s work shines through.

This is a well-recorded disc of very good performances, well worth listening to for a fascinating look at two standards of the piano repertoire.

David Blomenberg



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