This disc is the third
in Shiragaís BIS series presenting the
Hummel arrangements of Mozartís piano
concertos. The sound quality is just
what youíd 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 Mozartís 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 Mozartís own and reveal
those works on an entirely different
level. These arrangements on BIS, by
Mozartís student, show a deftly different
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 Mozartís own, these may
appear a bit heavy-handed, representing
to a great degree the change in musical
taste between the composition and the
arrangements ó 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 Mozartís
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.