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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K491 (1786) [30:42]
Symphony No. 39 in E flat major KV543 (1788) [32;12]
Sir Clifford Curzon (piano)
Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Antal Doráti
rec. April 1969, live, Konserthuset, Stockholm

Though Curzon wasn’t quite as associated with Mozart’s C minor concerto as he was with No.23 in A major, which saw multiple studio recordings, No.24 is not badly represented in his extensive discography. The two commercial recordings were made in mono in 1953 with Krips and in stereo in 1967 with Kertész. Three off-air performances have surfaced, so far as I’m aware, with Abbado (on GNP), Kubelík (Audite) and Haitink (BBC) in dates ranging from 1970 to 1979. Here’s a fourth, a live off-air broadcast taken from Stockholm in 1969, made under a year before the Bavarian Radio broadcast directed by Kubelík.

It’s directed by Antal Doráti and as so often benefits from a well-balanced Stockholm broadcast production in good sound for the time. Curzon plays with his familiar refinement and eloquent phrasing and there’s great clarity to his passagework. The first movement cadenza is adroitly played by the pianist. There’s fine and beautifully projected flute and bassoon support in the slow movement to which Curzon responds with real distinction, colouring each successive paragraph with a different palette of tones, exemplifying the collegiate nature of true chamber-scaled playing at such points. His touch remains pellucid but never indulged. Motored by the conductor’s crisp rhythms Curzon proves powerful and exciting in the finale. He also sounds fully at ease with no sign of any digital frailties.

One doesn’t necessarily think of Doráti as a Mozart conductor and he certainly didn’t record a swathe of the repertory. I can only think of the Paris and No.40 back in Minneapolis days, and the Linz and No.40 (again) with the LSO. But one of the salutary things that this label has explored is that broadcasting companies have a wealth of material yet to be heard. The label has issued all the above symphonies (on ADE 012 for Minneapolis and ADE013 for the LSO) and let’s hope more is to emerge. Such as this example, Symphony No.39 from the same Curzon concert. The conception is strong and resilient and the playing fine, with some big-hearted expression in the slow movement. There’s a slight ‘judder’ after the final chord but that might just be my copy.

The paper sleeve enclosed carries full discographical information but no notes. There are, however, tempting details of other Doráti items in their portfolio that are, or will be available including a number of important works that he was not asked to record in the studio, namely Schubert’s C major, Bruckner’s Seventh, Vaughan Williams’ Fourth and Shostakovich’s Tenth.

Meanwhile this Curzon-Doráti-Mozart release offers both expressive and technical pleasures.

Jonathan Woolf

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