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Mozart: Piano Concerto No 10, 14 & 23 / Carlo Grante, Bernhard Sieberer, Et Al

Release Date: 03/10/2009 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1222   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Barbara PanzarellaCarlo Grante
Conductor:  Bernhard Sieberer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Piano Concertos: No. 10 in E?; 1 No. 14 in E?; No. 23 in A Carlo Grante (pn); Barbara Panzarella (pn); 1 Bernhard Sieberer, cond; Santa Cecilia Natl Academy Rome O MUSIC & ARTS 1222 (79: 51)

I was tempted to depart from the rules by including a cadenza attribution in the header. Leopold Godowsky was one of the great pianists of the early-to-middle part of the last century, and of Read more the very last part of the century previous, but one who seems not to be remembered sufficiently in today’s world. He was also a composer, but above all, a musical genius with a lasting, though not sufficiently attributed, legacy. His cadenzas for two of these Mozart concertos are some of the most interesting features of this disc.

Italian pianist Carlo Grante has been associated with less familiar composers such as Busoni, Godowsky, and Scarlatti as well as with the more standard repertoire. His 17-year-old protégé pupil, Barbara Panzarella, was not known to me prior to hearing this Mozart disc. Grante has been recording the complete solo piano works of Godowsky for Music & Arts. This is the first time I’ve heard Austrian conductor Bernhard Sieberer’s work, although his name is familiar to me. The National Academy of Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome is the oldest orchestra in Italy, and recently celebrated its centenary.

Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos in E? (K 365) receives a spirited performance by these artists. Mozart treats both solo parts with equal measure, and both soloists, teacher and pupil, are up to the task. Clearly, the competition by Perahia and Lupu as part of Perahia’s traversal of the Mozart piano concertos and by Artur Schnabel and son, Karl-Ulrich, in their classic monaural recording under Adrian Boult, cannot be matched by Grante and Panzarella. But Grante and Panzarella under Sieberer’s conducting handle matters so well that, with Godowsky’s attractive cadenzas, this becomes a performance worth owning. Godowsky’s first movement cadenza is right out of the late-19th-century bravura school, with harmonies reminiscent of the second movement of the K 533 Sonata. A bit shocking for Mozart, but not inappropriate, and certainly interesting. Godowsky’s third movement cadenza is in a jaunty, bravura style—again providing an interesting change from the expected.

Grante and Sieberer take the first movement of No. 14 with a graceful and relaxed tempo. Grante’s phrase shaping is admirable, with Mozart’s part-writing clearly presented by both Grante and Sieberer. The cadenza is by Grante in the style of Godowsky. The final two movements are again admirably played, with the last movement especially spirited. Perahia and Barenboim, in each of their recordings with the English Chamber Orchestra, have the advantage of superior ensemble intonation. Barenboim, however, is too brusque, whereas Perahia surpasses Grante in drawing out the poetic aspects of the music. Serkin’s ancient recording of this concerto with the Busch Chamber Players under Adolf Busch remains a classic.

The high point of this disc is the great A-Major Concerto No. 23, K 488. Grante and Sieberer shape their phrases with tempo and dynamics to match or even surpass Perahia, and certainly to surpass Barenboim’s brusqueness. Inner part-writing is especially clear here. Godowsky’s late-19th-century-styled first-movement cadenza is the most interesting of his three cadenzas, showing great invention in terms of relating its material to that of Mozart’s. The second movement’s F?-Minor melancholy is especially revealed by these artists without hint of bathos. The third movement enters with its contrasting exuberance immediately felt. However, Rudolf Serkin’s recording of the A-Major Concerto with Claudio Abbado and the London Symphony Orchestra remains my favorite.

Concerning “un-Mozartian cadenzas,” listen to the tonally meandering cadenzas Artur Schnabel wrote for his classic recordings of K 466 (the D-Minor) and K 491 (the C-Minor). They are bizarre, making Godowsky’s cadenzas relatively conventional and benign. This is a Mozart piano-concerto disc that all should own and listen to for its insights by the performers and by Leopold Godowsky’s cadenzas.

As a final, curious note of history, Leopold Godowsky’s son, Leopold, Jr. (husband of George and Ira Gershwin’s sister, Frances), was a both a violinist (with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra) and a chemist who, with Leopold Mannes, both a pianist and a physicist, and Mannes School of Music president and son of the founders of the Mannes School of Music, invented the color photography process known as Kodachrome. In 2005, both Leopolds were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In so many ways, science and music are of a piece.

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Works on This Recording

Concerto for 2 Pianos in E flat major, K 365 (316a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Barbara Panzarella (Piano), Carlo Grante (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernhard Sieberer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1779; Salzburg, Austria 
Concerto for Piano no 14 in E flat major, K 449 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Carlo Grante (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernhard Sieberer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Concerto for Piano no 23 in A major, K 488 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Carlo Grante (Piano)
Conductor:  Bernhard Sieberer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 

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