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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major K467 (1784) [29.07]
Concerto for Three Pianos in F major K242 (1776) [22.32]
Concerto for Two Pianos in E flat major K365 (1779) [24.46]
Jon Kimura Parker (piano) (performs his own cadenzas)
James Parker (piano) (K242 and K365)
Ian Parker (piano) (K242)
CBC Radio Orchestra/Mario Bernardi
rec. live, Chan Centre Vancouver, 8 January 2006. DDD
CBC SMCD 5240 [76.26]

This is a very good collection of Mozartís piano concertante works in enthusiastic and well accomplished performances recorded live by Canadian Broadcasting. The dominant pianist is the highly accomplished Jon Kimura Parker who can be heard performing the Barber concerto on Telarc CD-80632 (reviewed) but I must also mention brother James who I recently heard with the "Gryphon Trio" in a collection of Mozart piano trios reviewed in April: Analekta AN 2 9827-8. Cousin Ian Parker also seems to be highly promising from what Iíve gleaned from the web.

Piano Concerto No. 21 is among the best known of Mozartís concertos and the slow movement, used in a film, is often played as a torso. This is a fine performance and I sensed real musicianship and understanding of the score. The cadenza in the first movement will make you smile, borrowing as it does the beginning of one of Mozartís famous late symphonies, Number 40. I thought this was great as a one-off although I might not want it as my only rendition. The slow movement comes off well, without lapsing into wallowing sentimentality. A fine rendition of the Allegro vivace assai brings the concerto to a splendid ending and deserved applause.

There are many fine performances in the past from Lipatti through Barenboim to Schiff, not forgetting Anda; Iím not going to choose between them but this is a good recording and will be returned to, bearing in mind the first movement cadenza.

Concerto for Three Pianos is called the "Lodron" as it was written to a Countess of that name and her two daughters. This results in the third piano player having a fairly easy task. Mozart also transposed this piece for two pianos in a version which he and his sister performed. This is early Mozart and the kind of work I only want to hear occasionally. Here the live context works to the benefit of all concerned. The orchestra is of a high standard and the players achieve a real feeling of teamwork. Bravo to all concerned.

The Concerto for Two Pianos will always be associated with Christopher Nupenís film "Double Concerto" from the days of black and white TV and the marvelous coupling of Barenboim and Ashkenazy. Sadly that performance was never released commercially but there has been a great recording from Emil and Elena Gilels under Karl Bohm (DG 4636522) which Iíve returned to many times over the past 18 years. This is a lovely piece composed about the same time as the "Sinfonia Concertante" and like that splendid work Mozart makes brilliant use of the interplay between the two instruments. The final movement contains one of those melodies that I find difficult not to sing along to; fortunately this is not on the recording! I really thought this was a very good performance and is the highlight of the disc. What a night the people in Vancouver had this January and credit to the engineers for capturing the recording.

The Mozart Anniversary year will bring many reissues and new releases but this will surely be regarded as a highlight.

David R Dunsmore


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