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Mozart: Piano Concertos No 12, 21 & 23 / Fazil Say


Release Date: 01/18/2005 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 4992   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Fazil Say
Conductor:  Howard Griffiths
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Before talking to Fazil Say about these performances, I’m not sure that I would have used the word “operatic” to describe them—but from the beginning, I was struck by their conversational quality, by the superbly characterized playing of the solo winds and by the exceptional chamber-music rapport of pianist and orchestra as they toss material back and forth. And while I might not have thought of the word “smiling,” I certainly noticed the high level of wit, both in the playing itself and in the slightly anachronistic cadenza that Say offers for K 467.

More generally, these are first-rate performances that are consistently joyful and consistently winning in their poise: finely, but never garishly, colored (listen, for example,
Read more to the magical ending of the second movement of K 488); clean, but never antiseptic; imaginatively voiced, but never fussy or arbitrary in their treatment of secondary lines; energetic, even on occasion breathless, but never hectic, much less aggressive. And while the piano does “sing,” as Say hopes it will, these are not, as that observation may lead you to fear, in any way soft-centered readings. The rhythms are far from rigid (note, in particular, the way he leans into cadences); but there is plenty of kick, plenty of dynamic contrast, plenty of bite to the articulation; and the phrasing consequently has a sharp profile. Not even in the popular middle movement of K 467, with its darker emotional undercurrents, does Say veer toward the sentimental.

Granted, this is a crowded field, and I wouldn’t want to be without, say, the very different performances by Ashkenazy, Lipatti, and Schnabel in K 467 or by Pollini or Rubinstein in K 488. Still, it says a lot that these new performances can be mentioned in the same breath as those classics—and I’d argue that Say’s zip through K 414 stands higher yet. The sound is excellent, too (the antiphonal separation of the first and second violins pays high dividends here). All in all, a distinguished release.

Peter J. Rabinowitz, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Piano no 12 in A major, K 414 (385p) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Fazil Say (Piano)
Conductor:  Howard Griffiths
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 
2. Concerto for Piano no 21 in C major, K 467 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Fazil Say (Piano)
Conductor:  Howard Griffiths
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
3. Concerto for Piano no 23 in A major, K 488 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Fazil Say (Piano)
Conductor:  Howard Griffiths
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 

Sound Samples

Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414: I. Allegro
Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414: II. Andante
Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414: III. Rondeau: Allegretto
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, "Elvira Madigan": I. Allegro maestoso
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, "Elvira Madigan": II. Andante
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, "Elvira Madigan": III. Allegro vivace assai
Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488: I. Allegro
Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488: II. Adagio
Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488: III. Allegro assai

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