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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 7 in F for Two Pianos K 242* [1776, arr. 1780] (25:11)
Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K 488 [1786] (27:46)
Mira Yevtich, (Piano)
Ksenia Bashmet, (Piano)*
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitry Yablonsky
rec. May 2005, Moscow Radio Studio, Russia
BEL AIR MUSIC BAM 2037 [53:16]

The rate at which Mozart composed often boggles the mind. We won’t even mention the age at which he started to compose; that boggles as well. But the fact that between the years of 1784 and 1786 he composed twelve of his piano concertos truly staggers the imagination. One of those concertos is presented here, the K488 in A. Opening the disc is the composer’s arrangement of the earlier piano concerto No. 7, originally for three pianos, presented here in its more commonly-heard guise for two pianos.

This disc, featuring the fine playing of Mira Yevtich and Ksenia Bashmet - the daughter of renowned performer and conductor Yuri Bashmet - is charmingly played and the balance of the two instruments with the orchestra in the K242 is lovely. The two pianos are set just off-center from each, making it easy to hear the individual parts and get an excellent sense of the interplay of the two piano parts in this piece.

Yevtich and Bashmet opt for a more stately approach for the K242; tempi for all of the movements are more leisurely than the other recordings in my collection. While enjoyable, this slower pace has a tendency to sap a touch of the vitality from the music. The K242 is given a restrained, seamlessly-presented performance here; extremely tastefully done. My standard for the two-piano version of the K242 has been, for some time, the Perahia/Lupu with the English Chamber Orchestra. While the Yevtich/Bashmet version here is lovely, the Perahia/Lupu has more sparkle and snap, with more joyousness in the performance.

Yevtich’s tone is not at all heavy, and she plays with the crispness and sharp definition that the music demands. She is the current head of the department of piano education at the Australian International Conservatory. It indicates in the liner notes that she has previous recordings on various labels, but in my searches I haven’t found any aside from this one commercially available. Ksenia Bashmet toured the Continent with her father last year ... based on this recording, it may be well worth while to check out one of her concerts this season.

Mira Yevtich next performs the seemingly ubiquitous Piano Concerto No. 23. This performance has a more thoughtful approach than some of the rollickingly quick-paced versions I’ve encountered on some of the budget labels recently. In the first movement, the pace is slightly faster than Perahia’s. The English Chamber Orchestra to me sounds fuller and less dry on Perahia’s recording than the Russian Philharmonic here. The Adagio however, at almost 8 minutes, is appreciably slower than any of the other performances I have. While this works quite well at the immediate onset of the movement — the solo piano introduction here is quite arresting - it drags the movement down as it progresses. The finale returns with a snappier tempo, and the Russian Philharmonic stays precise in the orchestral presentation of the first theme after the initial entrance of the piano. Yablonsky brings out more forceful changes in dynamics, but Perahia brings out charming artful flourishes such as the sudden surfacing of the clarinets at 0:47. Yevtich does Mozart extremely well, and, though I still prefer the wonderful recordings of Perahia, this remains a thoroughly enjoyable performance. I see myself returning to this disc well after this review has been submitted.

David Blomenberg


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