Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No.21 in C, K467 (1785) [30:51]
Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K466 (1785) [32:16]
Piano Concerto No.23 in A, K488 (1786) [26:09]
Piano Concerto No.27 in B flat, K595 (1791) [32:12]
Rondo in D, K382 (1782) [7:48]
Daniel Barenboim (piano and director)/English Chamber Orchestra
rec. 1-2 January 1967 (K466 and K488), 3-4 January 1967 (K595), 1-2 October 1968 (K467), 25-26 September 1971 (Rondo), EMI Abbey Road Studio. ADD
EMI CLASSICS MASTERS 6317962 [63:16 + 66:25]
It’s only two years since I reviewed the Classics for Pleasure re-issues of Barenboim’s recordings of Mozart’s K482 & K488 Concertos on 5218682 (see review) and K466 and K491 Concertos, on 2282782 (see review) at which time I welcomed both CDs with open ears. Concerning K466, I wrote, “This is a masterful interpretation, soloist and orchestra as one in bringing out all the angst contained within much of the music” and about K488 “Barenboim is, perhaps, ever so slightly hard edged in his approach to this work - I would have welcomed a little more relaxation from time to time - but, like its companion, this is music making of the highest order.” I see no reason to add to these comments for they are as valid now for the recordings in this incarnation as they were in 2008.
I will concentrate here on the other three works on these disks. The famous K467 seems to me to suffer from the same problems as K488, Barenboim appears unable to relax sufficiently and simply play the music. He’s too intent on giving a performance, rather than enjoying being part of an ensemble. His whole approach is too heavy for my taste, but the slow movement shows some restraint. I wonder if Barenboim’s youth somehow allowed him to understand the darker, more introspective, side of Mozart at the expense of letting himself go and simply enjoy making music in these lighter textured works.
K595 has the feel of a valedictory piece, a premonition of the composer’s mortality. Barenboim finds the right voice for this music, employing a very light touch, never overstating the case, and simply getting on with it, playing the music and, as he does this, finding the pathos and heart ache inherent within.
The Rondo K382 was written as an alternative to the finale he created for the Concerto K175, but it’s hard to see how this would sit in that work, for it is a big piece, with a much larger conception than the rest of the work. It’s perfect as a separate concert piece and Barenboim is in his element here, easily making his way through the changes of tempo and direction, and proving that it is a work which can stand alone.
Whatever my slight reservations this is a very fine set indeed, and it can be warmly welcomed for there is much to enjoy here, both in the superb pianism and the playing of the English Chamber Orchestra.
This set can be warmly welcomed.