Polish pianist Felicja
Blumental (1908-1991) was an intensely musical pianist, as these
recordings clearly show. The idea behind this coupling was inspired
by the musical contest between Mozart and Clementi in Vienna
in 1781 - it was a tie, declared Emperor Josef II - an event
which sparked a long-lasting rivalry between the two composers.
is easily the best-known of Mozart's earlier concerti. The 1976
recording may take some getting used to. The orchestra lacks
depth, yet the piano is remarkably echoey. Hager's exposition
is somewhat unsubtle - bright and breezy might be another, more
charitable, reading - and there is a general lack of repose.
Blumental, however, is a most approachable advocate, her first-movement
cadenza a particular delight. The Andantino - more of an Adagio
if one is honest, but a glance at the recording date tells us
why - is very good, very intense. Blumental plays with a real
communion with the music's spirit, even if her accents can seem
too pushed at times. The orchestra seems to have finally reached
echt-Mozartian waters for the finale. A huge amount of energy
runs through this. There seems, though, to be some sort of acoustic
shift at 8'50 in this movement, most disconcerting, especially
so near the end.
Whereas the Mozart
might be in a crowded field - Uchida on Philips remains my personal
'modern' preference - the Clementi sits almost alone. Pietro
Spada recorded his own edition of this work for ASV with the
Philharmonia: CDDCA802. Blumental makes the best possible case
for a work that is clearly on a lower inspirational stratum than
the 'Jeunehomme'. Compositionally, the orchestral exposition
is rather clumsy, although in all honesty it is jolly enough
and the Prague orchestra plays tidily. This is an appealing work,
of that there is no doubt, but perhaps putting it next to K271
wasn't such a bright idea after all. The cadenza is the best
part of the first movement – it becomes positively Beethovenian,
and it is excellently played here.
The highlight is
the slow movement which is marked, 'Adagio e cantabile, con grande
espressione'. The long, silky violin line that opens is surely
operatic in nature - if not in origin? - and, interestingly,
parts tend towards the Chopinesque. If the finale is something
of a let-down, its elements of C major pomp are appealing.
The low playing time is somewhat mitigated by the low retail