There have been several other recordings which offer the opportunity
to compare and contrast different cadenzas for a particular concerto.
As far as I am aware this is the first time that this has been
done for this work. This is perhaps surprising as of all Mozart’s
concertos this is the one which seemed most to appeal to nineteenth
century taste, and which rightly still retains its popularity
today. The first and last movements clearly require a cadenza
to be played. Unsurprisingly a whole parade of famous composers
and pianists have put down their ideas for this in writing. Arguably
a written cadenza is by its nature likely to be less successful
than one improvised at a live performance and which can draw on
the adrenalin and circumstances of that performance. There are
nonetheless few pianists nowadays prepared to risk the inspiration
of the moment. The great majority will have worked at least as
hard on preparing someone else’s cadenza as they do the main part
of the concerto. In this they differ from members of the clergy
required to preach a sermon each Sunday. Few nowadays take the
alternative and once normal approach of reading the sermons of
others who may be much more distinguished or learned as theologians.
They prefer their own efforts which can be tailored to the event.
Perhaps pianists might take note of this example.
who would sensibly wish to forgo the opportunity of hearing
the versions of such composers as Beethoven, Brahms and Busoni
who also happened to be piano virtuosi? The present disc is
cunningly arranged so that the main part of the first and last
movements have tracks of their own, followed by a series of
five alternative cadenzas for each followed by the coda to that
movement. As no cadenza is required in the slow movement that
is given a single track only. Thus it is possible to programme
your CD player to include any of the various cadenzas included.
should a cadenza be in a concerto such as this? It should obviously
be an opportunity to display the soloist’s technical abilities.
It is also an opportunity to take their approach to the character
of the music further, exploring the themes of the music beyond
what the composer has done in the written parts of the movement.
Mozart’s own cadenzas are wonderful models of this, although
their very existence does mean that few soloists dare to attempt
anything different when they exist. Those for the D minor Concerto
have been lost so an alternative choice has to be made, usually
those by Beethoven. The ones chosen for the present disc are
given in reverse chronological order, so that those by the soloist
himself are included first; very good they are too. They make
no attempt at “period” style but are well related to the work
and to his performance, which is just as it should be. I suspect
that if I were playing the disc simply to hear the Concerto
I would see no reason to change them.
of the others do however have interest and they are well contrasted.
I have mentioned Beethoven’s familiar efforts, written early
in his career only some ten years after the Concerto itself.
They maintain its almost demonic energy and are well played
here. Those by Busoni are somewhat less familiar but if anything
go even further in capturing the essential character of the
work without resort to pastiche or mere decorative virtuosity.
Those by Brahms for the first movement and Clara Schumann for
the last are interesting in again being very much of their period
and of their composers. The final pair – Hummel for the first
movement and Mozart’s younger son, Franz Xaver Wolfgang for
the last – are essentially more concerned with pianistic effects
than with appropriateness to the character of the Concerto;
nonetheless they do have some historic interest.
Rische distinguishes between all of these versions with remarkable
ability to get to their essence. For the most part I also greatly
enjoyed his playing in the majority of the Concerto. He is careful
to give each phrase or section its distinctive character. At
times he is prone to some stickiness of rhythm which perhaps
detracts from its impetus, especially in the first movement,
although not enough to spoil the performance as a whole. The
orchestra play well and the recorded balance is very satisfactory.
All in all you might well think that this disc would be worth
having for the Concerto alone. Clearly however it is the chance
to hear the various alternative cadenzas that are its point.
It should appeal strongly to anyone wanting to understand the
work and its performance more deeply.