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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 13 in C K415
Piano Concerto No. 11 in F K413
Piano Concerto No. 12 in A K414
Cadenzas by Bent Sørensen (b. 1958)
Katrine Gislinge (piano)
Stenhammar Quartet
rec. 2016, Sveriges Radio, Studio, Stockholm
ALBA ABCD418 [72:35]

Danish pianist, Katrine Gislinge, was joined by her countrymen from the Stenhammar Quartet for this recording of Mozart’s Piano Concertos No. 11-13. Mozart started to write these works in the autumn of 1782 shortly after his arrival in Vienna, and he specified that they could by accompanied either by full orchestra or by string quartet. These are all relatively intimate works and work well as piano quintets.

Both Gislinge and the Stenhammar Quartet are closely associated with the modernist works of Bent Sørensen. I was intrigued to see that Sørensen had composed the cadenzas for all three concertos. In the programme notes he wrote: “In all six cadenzas there are traces of the piano quintet ‘Rosenbad’ that I wrote for Katrine and the Stenhammar Quartet whilst listening to and working on the Mozart Concertos. One goal was that the cadenza should fly out of Mozart’s music into mine in a playfully virtuosic way.” I found these cadenzas very disappointing: the modernist style jars very heavily with Mozart’s Classical style and they make the music sound very dislocated and incoherent. I have no objections to juxtaposing contemporary works with works from the 18th Century in a recital, but attempting to merge the two styles in one piece of music is simply not appropriate.

It is a shame that the players did not opt for more conventional cadenzas, as the playing for the most part was very good. The Stenhammar Quartet produced a clean and vibrant sound, they used a range of well-judged dynamics and the articulation was exceptionally good throughout. In the opening movement of the C Major Concerto they conjured up brilliant orchestral sonorities before showing their first-class chamber music credentials, blending beautifully with the soloist. Their handling of the slow movement of the A Major Concerto was exceptionally beautiful and I loved the spirited attack they brought to the finale of the same concerto (although the tempo was a little fast).

Gislinge also showed herself to be a capable Mozartian. I was particularly impressed with her exquisite ornamentation in the slow movements. Her articulation and handling of the passagework was generally very good in the outer movements, and she played with a pleasing degree of clarity throughout. Gislinge’s playing occasionally sounded a little mannered, for example in the development section of the opening movement of the C Major Concerto; the slow movement of the same concerto sounded a little too Romantic for my taste. Some of the tempo relationships in the last movement of the C Major Concerto did not entirely work for me, although this is very much a matter of taste. Gislinge brought commitment and conviction to Sørensen’s cadenzas and, as far as I could tell, she played them well. She did her best to realise Sørensen’s artistic vision but the Danish composer’s music does not meld well with that of Mozart.

Robert Beattie



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