Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Concerto for two pianos K365/316a (1779) [24:51]
Concerto for three pianos K242 (1776) [25:05]
Divertimento No.8 in F K213 (1775) [9:54]
Divertimento No.9 in B flat, K240 (1776) [11:46]
Duo Schnabel (pianos) Ilse von Alpenheim (piano)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Bernhard Paumgartner
rec. 1953, Vienna (Divertimentos) and November 1955, Musikverein, Brahms-saal, Vienna (Concertos)
Noticing the word Schnabel in the head note might lead to a few heads being scratched, a few chins being stroked. No, it’s not a recording of Artur and Karl Ulrich Schnabel. They did record and they are beloved recordings. In fact the Schnabels left behind a record, with Adrian Boult conducting, of the Double Concerto, K365, that’s also played on this Forgotten Records disc. These recordings are in fact by Karl Ulrich and Helen Schnabel, his wife, made in Vienna with Bernhard Paumgartner directing, in 1955. They offer a considerable amount of satisfaction and musical reward.
Karl Ulrich had had a great deal of experience playing this work with his father and he and Helen Schnabel make for a good, dramatic when necessary, team. Those who may recall later performances in the LP era, such as those with Brendel and Klein with Angerer conducting, also in Vienna, or the less well-known duo team of Sancan and Pommier on Nonesuch wil know that the work was pretty well served in this era, with performances to suit all tastes. The duo playing tended to be, in most cases, more stylish than the accompaniments, but that’s not quite the case here. Paumgartner provides sturdy, tidy support. The duo is joined by pianist Ilse von Alpenheim for a recording of the Concerto for three pianos, K242. This has a stately introduction and some good moments but is an example of Mozart coasting. Paumgartner tries to get some swagger into the thing, at which he’s moderately successful, but the concerto remains too muddy with three concertos banging away. How on earth can you tell who’s playing what and when? Even Sancan, Pommier and Silie in the Nonesuch referred to earlier, sound little better in this respect, though it’s no fault of the musicians.
Paumgartner was an arbiter of taste in Salzburg and the sound of his ensemble there is subtly different from that of his Viennese ensemble for the Divertimento recordings. The band was drawn from the Vienna Symphony, and is forwardly recorded. There’s a big, confident sound, and whilst Paumgartner was seldom the ultimate in sensitivity, the results are very communicative.
An enjoyable restoration, therefore, but it’s probably of interest to a rather specialised audience.
Jonathan Woolf 

An enjoyable restoration of interest to a rather specialised audience. 

Masterwork Index: Mozart Concerto for two pianos ~~ For three pianos