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alternatively Crotchet


Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat, K271 ('Jeunehomme') (1777) [33:10];
Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K491 (1786) [30:57]
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie/Mikhail Plentev (piano)
No rec. dates given. DDD

The packaging on these Virgin Classics reissues leaves much to be desired. The lack of recording dates and locations is the least of the problems (there is a (p) date of 1986). The booklet is just a slip of paper with work details and timing, plus the most general of booklet notes on each work.
Pletnev's playing has at least the capacity to be more of less instantly recognisable. Sometimes the rather twee, narcissistic phrasing actually comes under the heading of 'musical', but more often than not it feels false. This is almost Mozart arranged by rather than played by Pletnev. The cadenza of the last movement Jeunehomme meanders hopelessly; not that the pianist is off the leash, while the timing for the second movement is 12:08 - despite a clear Andantino marking from the composer! Any excuse to intervene, to impose, is enough for Pletnev. This is a shame as the orchestra is clearly a good one whose freshness has been dulled - the first movement of the same concerto is rather workaday despite ample evidence of professionalism and ability. The Jeunehomme is one of the present writer's favourite Mozart concertos. To hear it demeaned in this fashion is almost painful. Only the finale comes close to the acceptable. Pletnev's speed for the faster section is rather headlong, but he has the fingers to articulate clearly.
The depth and profundity of the C minor is rather glossed over here. Individual niceties may exist - some effective ppps - but the fact remains that the best is heard when the orchestra is alone. The orchestral exposition at least hints at the greatness of this work. If the finale has fair energy, the slow movement's predictably inward-looking preening spoils any chance of a recommendation.
The recording itself is good but no credits are given; ironic as it is the best aspect of this issue! Retailing at lower-mid price is no excuse for the cheap presentation of this disc; companies such as Naxos achieve far better at super-budget level. Disappointing on every single level.
Colin Clarke


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