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Mozart: Piano Concertos No 22 & 25 / Paul Badura-skoda

Mozart / Badura-skoda
Release Date: 09/13/2011 
Label:  Music & Arts   Catalog #: 1254   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Paul Badura-Skoda
Conductor:  Horst SteinGeorge Szell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Piano Concertos: No. 22 in E?; 1 No. 25 in C 2 Paul Badura-Skoda (pn); 1 George Szell, cond; Concertgebouw O; 2 Horst Stein, cond; Vienna PO MUSIC & ARTS 1254 (65:59) Live: 1 Amsterdam 12 /19–20/1959; 2 Vienna Read more 6/15/1978

These performances are separated by nearly two decades, and they do indeed sound different. The question is, to what degree are the differences a result of the change in the ensembles and conductors, or the stage of the soloist’s career, or both? I am inclined to give the benefit of doubt to Paul Badura-Skoda, one of the great classicists of our time, and an artist who plays wonderfully even as he ages (he was born in 1927), albeit with some subdued vigor and athleticism. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25, perhaps the most grandiloquent creation in this format by the master, has a lengthy orchestral introduction, and so the conductor must set the pace and spirit of the piece. Horst Stein, to my ears, does not achieve a true maestoso flavor, with a somewhat flagging tempo and flaccid phrasing, despite the service of one of the world’s great orchestras, in this 1978 recording. Our gentlemanly soloist does not barge into this situation, but accedes to the direction of the conductor. It then almost seems as if Badura-Skoda takes over as the leader of the performance, as all involved are newly energized. The movement ends with far more energy than it started with, the slow movement is superbly playful, and the finale connects beautifully to Mozart’s buoyant energy.

George Szell, also at the helm of a great ensemble in this 1959 recording, seems to be a more simpatico partner for Badura-Skoda. The soloist is in his prime here, with playing of superb rhythmic awareness, bold yet elegant phrasing, and a generally keen sense for Mozart’s genius for theatrical construction. You could pretty much describe Szell’s leadership with similar words. This is a terrific performance, full of life, but bearing no strain. These guys get Mozart. The sound quality of the 1959 recording is noticeably dimmer than the 1978 one, but once the music-making starts, the ear adjusts, and there is nothing unduly distracting. Badura-Skoda remains a role model for modern Mozart playing, with few equals to this day, and none better.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 25 in C major, K 503 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Paul Badura-Skoda (Piano)
Conductor:  Horst Stein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: Live 6/15/1978 
Concerto for Piano no 22 in E flat major, K 482 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Paul Badura-Skoda (Piano)
Conductor:  George Szell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: Live 12/1959 

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