Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major, Jeunehomme [33:03]
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major K467 [29:16]
The Cleveland Orchestra/Mitsuko Uchida (piano)
rec. live, Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, 5-7 April 2012
DECCA CLASSICS 478 3539 [62:31]
This is the third live recording of Mozart piano concertos in the collaboration between Mitsuko Uchida and the Cleveland Orchestra on Decca. The previous two were notable for the thoughtfulness and subtlety of the performances (review review) and this issue is in many ways the best yet. Recorded as recently as April 2012 in the grateful acoustic of the Severance Hall, it is technically and sonically flawless, achieving a lovely balance between the sonorous new Hamburg Steinway and the refined orchestra. The sound is warm and detailed with very little audience noise. There is just enough of a hint of percussive edge in the piano to provide piquancy but the horns and flutes in the opening bars of K467 are also sufficiently prominent to emphasise its sprightly military character.
The combination of works on offer is especially enticing: K467, perhaps Mozart’s most celebrated piano concerto and K271, the inaccurately named Jeunehomme, a work from the first flowering of his youthful maturity written in the month of his twenty-first birthday.
The fluidity, evenness and delicacy of Uchida’s touch are a joy throughout; this is effortless music-making at its most captivating. The sweetness of her playing of Mozart’s cadenza in the first movement is capped by a glorious trill flourish bringing the movement to a very satisfying close. The exuberance of the Allegro yields to the sighing melancholy of muted strings underpinning the pianist’s filigree arioso figures. Typically of a concerto of such varied and contrasting moods, the Presto is first attacked with real brio and élan; then comes the surprise minuet section, again with muted strings and pizzicato accompaniment, before the movement closes with a cadenza of great strength and purpose.
The more familiar C major concerto is played with verve but without showiness; Uchida, using her own cadenzas, offers an interpretation which is often elegant and understated but never listless. The pose of the famous Andante is succeeded by an irrepressibly high-spirited finale with Uchida executing the ruins with astonishing precision and fluency.
I have no adverse criticism of this disc and look forward to the continuation and eventual completion of a superb series.
I look forward to the continuation and eventual completion of a superb series.
Masterwork Index: Concerto 9 ~~ Concerto 21