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Mozart: Piano Concertos, Vol. 2 / Primakov

Mozart / Primakov / Odense So / Gaudenz
Release Date: 04/12/2011 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9339  
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Vassily Primakov
Conductor:  Simon Gaudenz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Odense Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MOZART Piano Concertos: No. 11; No. 20; No. 21 Vassily Primakov (pn); Simon Gaudenz, cond; Odense SO BRIDGE 9339 (77:52)


Vassily Primakov’s first volume of Mozart piano concertos contained the composer’s last four, Nos. 24 to 27; in this second volume he juxtaposes two of the mature concertos with the early F Major, first of the great series of 17 piano concertos composed in Vienna beginning in 1782. K 413 is one of a group described by Mozart in a letter to his father as being “a happy medium between what Read more is too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid.” The orchestra calls for pairs of oboes and horns, and bassoon, in addition to the strings, although Mozart had stipulated that the concertos could also be performed à quattro , or by just the four strings of a quartet, for domestic chamber music use. This is one of Mozart’s sunniest works; the first movement has an air of well-behaved but joyful insouciance, the second movement a serene, singing melody accompanied by pizzicato strings, and the rondo finale has a balanced interplay between piano and orchestra. The crisp tempos seem just right for each movement.


Primakov plays Mozart as naturally and beautifully as one can ask; no exaggerations, no artifices, just a sensitive response to Mozart’s style. What stands out in particular is his beautiful touch, whether in piano, forte, or shades in between. One of the points he stressed in the foregoing interview was the importance placed on a beautiful keyboard sound by his Russian teacher, Vera Gornostaeva, in line with the great tradition that descended from Heinrich Neuhaus to his pupils. There is a lightness of touch in Primakov’s performance of K 413 that matches the lighthearted innocence of the music. His fortes are strong, but never harsh, and rapid passagework is elegant and light-fingered. The cadenzas are by Mozart.


Quite a contrast with the popular K 466 that follows—from cheerful F Major to the turbulence of D Minor, from carefree to moody and foreboding! In the first movement, after the dramatic tutti ritornello, Primakov plays with a penetrating pressure on the keys, all intensity and energy. In this respect he brings one of my favorite performances, by the great Annie Fischer, to mind, although Primakov’s slightly faster tempos are, I think, better suited to the music. The brilliant Beethoven cadenza for the first movement of K 466 sounds particularly apt in Primakov’s hands. The lovely Romanze, again, is in a perfect tempo—Mozart did not write any indication other than alla breve, suggesting “not too slow,” and there is a pleasing consistency in tempo between the graceful sections in F Major and the stormy middle section in D Minor. Primakov plays a cadenza by the pianist Christian Zacharias in the third movement.


The C Major, K 467, also counts as one of Mozart’s most popular concertos (not, I am sure, because of its association with a once-popular movie that I will not credit by naming it). The concerto is a masterpiece, pure and simple. Its composition followed that of K 466 by a mere four weeks, and the contrast between the two is noteworthy; where the D Minor is theatrical and emotionally intense, the C Major is majestic and serene. A significant plus is that Primakov plays stylish and tastefully Mozartean cadenzas in the first and third movements by Dinu Lipatti, who was a composer of great talent and technical mastery, although unfortunately, little of his music is available in print.


The conductor Simon Gaudenz, according to the liner notes, is interested in “historical performance practice,” and accordingly, his players in the Odense Symphony play with little or no vibrato in the strings, and occasional squawky sounds in the winds. But the balance between piano and orchestra is excellent, and the ensemble is precise.


In sum, Primakov reveals himself as a sympathetic and vibrant Mozart pianist in these wonderful concertos. Strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Susan Kagan
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 11 in F major, K 413 (387a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Conductor:  Simon Gaudenz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Odense Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782-1783; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Conductor:  Simon Gaudenz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Odense Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Concerto for Piano no 21 in C major, K 467 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Conductor:  Simon Gaudenz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Odense Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 

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