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Mozart: Piano Concertos No 20 And 23 / Vogt, Bolton, Et Al

Release Date: 04/28/2009 
Label:  Oehms   Catalog #: 727   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Lars Vogt
Conductor:  Ivor Bolton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Piano Concertos: No. 7 in F; 1 No. 12 in A; No. 23 in A Leon Fleisher (pn, cond); Katherine Jacobson Fleisher (pn); 1 Stuttgart CO SONY 743505 (77:36)

MOZART Piano Concertos: No. 23 in A; No. 20 in d Read more class="ARIAL12"> Lars Vogt (pn); Ivor Boulton, cond; Salzburg Mozarteum O OEHMS 727 (56:15)

It’s something of a sobering thought to realize that a half century has passed since Leon Fleisher made his splendid recording with George Szell of Mozart’s towering C-Major Concerto, K 503. It augured for his becoming a major Mozartian, but, with the physical problems that ensued, it seemed it would never come to pass. Yet it has, slowly but surely, and if my own experience is any indication, with increasing control. That experience involves having heard Fleisher at Tanglewood in the early stages of his return to concertizing in a performance of the K 414 Concerto No. 12 featured here, a reading that was certainly musical and pleasing but without the subtlety and freedom of this performance, traits that are surely linked to his having regained greater technical control. In all three concertos (No. 7 heard here in an arrangement made by Mozart for two pianos), Fleisher is a refreshingly subtle pianist, rhythmically free without sounding mannered, never pushing a tempo too hard, particularly in outer movements, and refining his tone so that keyboard textures are always well defined. Most significantly, his approach underscores the inherent drama of this music, particularly in the two concertos where he is the sole soloist. As heard here, these are not works for an 18th-century drawing room. Vital, intense, and daring, they make clear why Mozart was the consummate master of the Classical concerto. If No. 7 is not quite up to the quality of Mozart’s later efforts, it is nonetheless worth hearing, especially in this fine performance where Fleisher joins his wife, who is on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. Only in its finale (admittedly the work’s weakest movement) do things seem a bit dull. The orchestra is chamber sized in every sense of the word, two double basses supporting a total of 17 strings. Certainly, these performances can hold their own against some of the distinguished efforts of Brendel, Schiff, Uchida, and Rudolf Serkin (his Sony recordings.)

Coming to the Lars Vogt account of No. 23 immediately after hearing Fleisher’s proved fascinating. On the surface, they are hardly different. Both favor chamber orchestras and avoid a piano tone that would blur the texture of the solo part. But Vogt’s account benefits from a conductor on the podium, with a resulting crispness and clarity of orchestral color and detail that Fleischer’s reading does not quite attain. Complementing this difference is the greater crispness of Vogt’s execution. This is not to say it is better; it’s merely different. Throughout the outer movements, Vogt, possibly owing to a closer miking, projects a buoyant lightness that emphasizes a side of the music that is less obvious with Fleisher. And his faster tempo for the brooding middle movement seems as equally apt as Fleisher’s considerably slower one. Here, indeed, is a prime example of how there is more than one way to perform a masterpiece. Vogt’s account of No. 20 is every bit as good: unhurried in outer movements and appropriately demonic in the opening one, it captures the brooding aspect of the work as well as any I have heard. And the middle Romanze emerges with a gentle simplicity contrasted to an eruptive central section that gains from not being rushed. In the outer movements, Vogt bypasses the cadenzas by Beethoven that most pianists opt for (Mozart having supplied none) in favor of two lacking attribution (his own, perhaps?). But they are fine, considerably better than some I’ve heard.

Sonically, these two recordings are quite different: close and intimate for both soloist and orchestra in No. 23, considerably more distant in No. 20, with a clangy piano tone. But if this pairing appeals, both performances are worth attention.

FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Lars Vogt (Piano)
Conductor:  Ivor Bolton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: Arranger: Lars Vogt. 
Concerto for Piano no 23 in A major, K 488 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Lars Vogt (Piano)
Conductor:  Ivor Bolton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 

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