Piano Concerto No.19 in F major K459 (1784) [27:48]
Piano Concerto No.24 in C minor K491 (1785-86) [28:18]
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra/Victor Desarzens
rec. Theatre de Beaulieu, Lausanne, October 1957 (K459) and
June 1956 (K491) CLAVES
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No.19 in F major K459 (1784) [27:55]
Piano Concerto No.20 K466 in D minor (1785) [30:12]
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire/Jerzy
Philharmonia Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
rec. live, Besancon Festival, October 1956 (K459); live,
Mozarteum, Salzburg, January 1956 (K466) TAHRA TAH628 [58:37]
two discs offer four Haskil performances of three Mozart
concertos given within the space of nineteen months. Claves
gives us two performances with Victor Desarzens and the Lausanne
Chamber Orchestra and Tahra give us a Besancon Festival reading
with Jerzy Katlewicz and a Salzburg traversal of K466 with
the touring Philharmonia and von Karajan, the conductor who
is said to have revered Haskil.
first. These are light, limber performances orchestrally
speaking. Detractors might cite rhythmic flabbiness from
time to time but set against that there’s aeration to the
wind and string textures that bigger name orchestras and
conductors wouldn’t have dreamed of countenancing even in
1956 and ’57. I must also cite the flutes – excellent playing.
Haskil herself exhibits fluency, occasional fallibility but
total involvement in K459. Things crest with malleability,
tone colours are appropriate, projection remains consonant
and the alliance with section principals is secure and of
chamber-like intimacy of expression. The string moulding
of the slow movement is subtle and effective with a good
command of corporate dynamics. The finale’s fugal passages
are very adroitly done.
recording of the concerto is with the Orchestre de la Société des
Concerts du Conservatoire and Jerzy Katlewicz and it was
given a year earlier at the Besancon Festival. Here accents
are bigger and there’s rather more of a masculine force about
things. The recording here is also more “present” with the
result that Haskil’s accompanying figures sound more over-projected
than they would have been in concert – the rival performance
shows how discreet she was in this respect. Dissonances are
somewhat more strongly brought out as well. The orchestral
sound is less polished here than in Lausanne and the slow
movement is more of a conventional affair than the more intimate
chamber-sized encounter the following year. The winds are
tighter than their more mellifluous Swiss counterparts as
well. Things as a result, on Haskil’s part as well, sound
rather more externalised. Her tone is a touch harder as well,
less rounded and in the finale less malleable. Though here
the fugal passages are more exciting than in Lausanne.
to Claves for K491. This is another nuanced collaboration
- congenial and affectionate and founded again on chamber
intimacies as well as more boldly expressed gestures. The
highlight is the slow movement with beautifully rounded Haskil
tone and with the bassoonist strongly to the fore a real
sense of narrative linearity. There’s real drama in the finale
as well – note once more those pert wind statements and the
conductor’s sympathetic direction.
so finally back to Tahra for their Philharmonia-Karajan performance.
The winds here are in highly characteristic Philharmonia
form. Karajan spins his gravely smooth legato but proves
to be a pliant and almost deferential conductor for Haskil.
Incidentally I believe that this is the concert attended
by Tatiana Nikolaeva who came to hear Karajan but left having
wept at Haskil’s playing, the Russian pianist referring to
Haskil as “the best Mozart player.” Certainly the playing
is often beautiful and highly refined, the slow movement
most obviously, though it’s perhaps a touch heavy in the
finale from time to time.
is no shortage of live Haskil material as the duplication
here shows. Both discs offer real virtues – the consonant
intimacy of the meeting with Desarzens contrasts with the
more mixed Tahra brace. All though are vivid and warm examples
of her playing. The Claves is the more reflective and successful,
the Tahra the more provoking.
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