Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No.14 in E flat major K449 (1784) [22:03]
Piano Concerto No.15 in B flat major K450 (1784) [25:23]
Piano Concerto No.17 in G major K453 (1784) [30:18]
Piano Concerto No. 18 in B flat major K456 (1784) [30:07]
Rondo in A minor K511 (1787) [10:36]
Sonata in C major K330 (1779) [13:22]
The Haydn Orchestra/Harry Newstone
rec. BBC broadcasts June 1956 (Concertos); Concert Hall LP
c1951-54 (Sonata) and live at the Manhattan School of Music,
February 1980 (Rondo) BRIDGE 9217 [67:00
Balsam gave a series of broadcast performances of Mozart
Concertos with Harry Newstone and The Haydn Orchestra in
London in June 1956. Here we have four of them in preserved
off-air tapes. I was delighted to read in Bridge’s booklet
notes that Newstone left behind over four hundred such tapes,
many with this orchestra that he directed for so many years.
Amongst them were performances of over fifty Haydn symphonies – and
since Newstone was such a perceptive conductor of the composer
whose name he took for his orchestra we can but hope that
Bridge will give us some fruits from this vast archive.
though we have the collaboration between Balsam – better
known as an elite accompanist – and Newstone. The sound is
somewhat muffly and that does affect dynamic range – though
fortunately not so much in Balsam’s case. As with the last
concerto release documenting Balsam on Bridge 9196 (Mozart,
Beethoven, Hummel, C.P.E. Bach - see review) – we
find the pianist to be a soloist of discretion, sensitivity,
dynamism and refinement.
is quoted as having said that his Mozart sees no “pronounced,
startling contrast between a full piano and a relaxed, full
but singing forte.” Indeed what his performances demonstrate
is the validity and truthfulness of his belief. He plays
with rhythmic buoyancy and immediately established a sensitive
rapport with Newstone. Balsam’s credentials as a chamber
partner are surely also very much to the fore – how he voices
in response to wind statements for example, or his control
of dynamics when picking up on orchestral paragraphs. The
B flat major has a warmly moulded slow movement and excellent
animation in the outer ones but better still is the G major.
There’s command and elegance from Balsam and some terrifically
clear passagework in the Allegro. The seriousness of the
slow movement is never inert and Balsam’s precision over
articulation is laudable. So too is the light-heartedness
of the finale which has a proper infusion of vitality from
all the forces.
second disc houses the E flat major concerto, a performance
broadcast on the same occasion as the B flat major, 14 June
1956. Despite Balsam being rather over-recorded in relation
to the orchestra this is still another fine example of interplay
and exchange between soloist and conductor. As so often the
slow movement proves the centre of gravity with Newstone’s
elegant but never manicured tapestry adding considerably
to the success of the collaboration. Not unsurprisingly he
was admired by such other players as Lili Kraus and Charles
Rosen. Admirable too is the projection of the stormy contours
of the slow movement of the B flat major.
are two solo performances. There’s an undated Concert Hall
LP of the C major sonata K330, an unobtrusively enjoyable
and excellent performance – witty, playful, and paying due
account to the depth of the slow movement. And finally there’s
a powerful and much later 1980 performance of the Rondo in
A minor, which was given at the Manhattan School of Music
in 1980 and which is making its first appearance here.
is excellent retrieval work from Bridge, whose commitment
to Balsam has been of long standing and great worth.
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