Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No.1 in F major K.37 [15:50]
Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major K.39 [16:25]
Piano Concerto No.3 in D major K.40 [12:56]
Piano Concerto No.4 in G major K.41 [12:07]
Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)
Die Kölner Akademie /Michael Alexander Willens
rec. Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal, Cologne, Germany, August 2015. Co-production with Deutschlandfunk stereo/multichannel 5.0, Original format PCM 24bit/96kHz [58:34] reviewed in surround BIS BIS-2094 SACD [57:18]
This is the final volume of Brautigam’s cycle of the Mozart Piano Concertos recorded on copies of period fortepianos, here one by Paul McNulty (2007), after Johann Andreas Stein (1788). These are all pasticcio pieces, that is they are derived from the work of other composers but heavily reworked by Mozart under the guidance of his father. The other composers were Hermann Friedrich Raupach, Leontzi Honauer, Johann Schobert, Johann Gottfried Eckard and the altogether better known Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The details of whose music is used in each movement is fully explained in the excellent booklet note by academic and performance expert John Irving: nobody but the best for BIS. Mozart was 11 years old when he produced these expertly crafted concerti. Far more than transcription was involved in the process and indeed one movement is an actual Mozart (father and son) creation. It, the slow movement of K.37, being the earliest extant concerto movement (partly) by Mozart. It is likely that the dual-function of this activity was to develop Wolfgang’s compositional skill and to give him the means to show off his phenomenal keyboard technique on one of the tours he and Leopold carried out all over Europe. Obviously these works are not like the emotionally elevated mature concertos, they are very much of their period and to be enjoyed for their liveliness and skilfulness.
Brautigam plays an early Stein fortepiano, though arguably not early enough since it is a copy of a 1788 piano, eleven years later than the concerti. As always he is accompanied by Die Kölner Akademie directed by Michael Alexander Willens. They are a joy to hear and recorded with all the fidelity one could wish. One could be sharing the room with them.
Having collected all of this series I can safely say that this is the way I prefer my Mozart keyboard concertos. Not once in the cycle does a slow movement cause one to drift off and all the outer movements are as lively and dramatic as one could wish. Brautigam would, I am sure, never wish to suggest that the use of a fortepiano invalidates a modern instrument (he performs with both) but with this series I feel much closer to Mozart the 18th century musician, free of the romantic overlay that later years applied. Now, please Ronald Brautigam, will you do the same thing with Beethoven’s concerti? Your Norrköping set is splendid but it isn’t fully HIP.