Notes and Editorial Reviews
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
Piano Concerto No. 26 in D Major, K. 537, “Coronation”
Friedrich Gulda, piano and conductor
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded live from the Münchner Klaviersommer, 1986
Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: PCM Stereo
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 69 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
R E V I E W: 3752200.az_MOZART_Piano_Concertos_Nos.html
MOZART Piano Concertos Nos. 20 and 26
• Friedrich Gulda (pn, cond); Munich PO • ARTHAUS 101673 (DVD: 66:00) Live: Munich 1986
It is so seldom that I respond to a performance video, particularly of standard repertoire, the way I responded to this one, which was with completely unbridled enthusiasm, that I must keep my review brief lest I spend three pages gushing over the marvels of these performances. Suffice it to say that, aside from his beloved jazz and Beethoven, Friedrich Gulda almost saw it as his mission in life to rescue Mozart’s piano works from the province of lightweight tinklers like Walter Klien or Alicia de Larrocha and Romantic “gushers” like Murray Perahia. He viewed Mozart as the gateway to Beethoven, a composer whose work should be played with all of one’s heart and soul. I’m sure he must have liked Clara Haskil’s and Annie Fischer’s Mozart, as they were pianists in the same mold as he, but by 1986 we had already started to move away even from Perahia’s Romanticism and into the realm of historically-informed tinkling, much of which made de Larrocha sound like Sviatoslav Richter by comparison.
Thus you are forewarned. If you are a member of the H.I.P. crowd, you will flee from these performances like the plague. There is nothing of small-framed, near-balsa-wood fortepiano sound in Gulda’s playing, nor of 20-piece, MIDI-sounding orchestras. This is Mozart as he spoke to Gulda, and the pianist is fully engaged in the acts of both conducting and playing with equal fervor and intensity. And unlike so many Germans, who play with poker faces, there is emotion aplenty to be read in Gulda’s expressive face. For him, as for Toscanini, performing music—particularly this music—was almost a life and death struggle. He was going to channel Mozart his own way and try to convince you that it worked. To my ears, it does, in spades.
There is no specific date given for these performances, only that they date from the “Müncher Klaviersommer 1986,” so whenever it is that the Munich folk have their “piano summer,” that’s when they were played. Some of the violinists are seen wiping sweat from their brows, so hot were the camera lights, but although you can see beads of perspiration on Gulda’s forehead he plays and conducts blithely on as if the temperature meant nothing to him. As the pianist launches into the last movement of the Concerto No. 20, one of the younger violinists in the front row can be seen smiling in appreciation. Yeah, baby: This is how music should be played!
If anything, Gulda is even more animated in the Concerto No. 26, his right hand pumping the air while the left plays bass chords in the beginning while a mini-score of the Concerto nestles in the open piano frame, later switching his gestures to alternating each arm as it swings up and down in the air to direct the orchestra.
I hope I am not indicating that Gulda’s Mozart lacks sensitivity or delicacy when called for. This is certainly not Martha Argerich’s slam-bang approach to music-making. Gulda was a very bright man, very sensitive to phrase and structure in music; he knew what he was about. But as I say, if you are a proponent of historically-informed Mozart, don’t waste your money on this disc. Please, leave the copies for us music lovers to buy. We can’t get enough of this kind of playing.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley Read less
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