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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K414 (1782) [24:42]
Piano Concerto No. 24 in c minor, K491 (1786) [30:23]
Vienna Philharmonic/Maurizio Pollini (piano).
rec. live, Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, June 2007
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 7167 [57:15]
Experience Classicsonline

For me, the finest Pollini recording in 2008 wasn’t his Beethoven op.2 or his Chopin recital, nor even the re-issue of the excellent Piano Concerto set with Claudio Abbado, but this disc of Mozart concertos. Only last year did Pollini return to these works after not releasing an official recording of Mozart since 1976 (see Colin Clarke’s review). This is the second of the recent (live) Mozart recordings which are with Pollini conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. Understated, sunny, and genial – that’s why this - as well as the preceding - recording are such a delight. In the early A-major concerto K.414, among the first that Mozart wrote to introduce himself in Vienna, is a gentle delight – sophisticated in its simplicity and receiving precisely that kind of a treatment. No-nonsense, arguably understated, in pianistic perfection – in the c-minor concerto this reminds me of Keith Jarrett’s Mozart playing, but with ‘warmer’ results not the least thanks to the accompaniment from the Philharmonic’s radiant strings and sonorous, perfect winds.
Pollini plays Mozart’s candezas for K414 (and the second available cadenza for the second movement).  For K491 no cadenza by Mozart has survived, which is why Saint-Saëns wrote one, as did Fauré, J.N.Hummel, Humperdinck, Carl Reinecke, J.B.Cramer, Reynaldo Hahn, Brahms, Smetana, and Busoni. Many pianists use their own – like Vladimir Ashkenazy, Alfred Brendel, Rudolf Buchbinder, Géza Anda and Paul Badura-Skoda. George Szell wrote one, too, which Clifford Curzon uses in this concerto. Pollini uses Sicilian contemporary composer Salvatore Sciarrino’s – which are, unlike the Kalevi Aho cadenzas for the flute concertos, not in any way modern but Mozartean, predictable, harmless, lovely, even unnoticeable and not particularly spontaneous. That’s not a bad thing at all, because this disc isn’t going to be purchased for “Sciarrino cadenzas” but for Mozart – and the cadenzas are never in Mozart’s way. There are other lovely recordings of this, of course (Goode, Curzon), but when a record like this is in the CD player, comparison becomes pointless; enjoyment paramount.
Jens F. Laurson



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