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Lili Kraus Plays Mozart

Mozart / Kraus / Goldberg / Lpo / Goehr
Release Date: 12/13/2011 
Label:  Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog #: 9811  
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Lili KrausSzymon GoldbergEileen Joyce
Conductor:  Walter GoehrWalter SusskindClarence Raybould
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraPhilharmonia OrchestraOrchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Piano Concertos: No. 18 1; No. 9 2. Violin Sonata, K 404 3. Rondo for Piano and Orchestra, K 386 4 1,2,3 Lili Kraus, 4 Eileen Joyce (pn); 3 Szymon Goldberg (vn); Read more class="SUPER12">1 Walter Goehr, 2 Walter Susskind, 4 Clarence Raybould, cond; 1 London PO; 2 Philharmonia O; 4 unnamed O DUTTON VOCALION 9811 (68:31)

When one hears the name Lili Kraus one immediately thinks of those composers she seemed to favor above all else—Schubert, Beethoven, Haydn, and especially Mozart. She was, after all, the first pianist to record all of Mozart’s piano sonatas. In 1966–67 she even gave a complete cycle of that composer’s piano concertos in New York. The two concertos featured here (as the booklet notes say, interestingly, the B?-Concerto’s very first appearance on disc) are both dated in sound quality—the B? was recorded in 1938, the E? in 1948—and sloppy with faulty intonation in certain orchestral passages (here especially the E?-Concerto). There is, however, a vitality to Kraus’s playing and above all a naturalness. Even in the limited ability of the early recording processes to capture sound, it is quite amazing how varied her subtle changes in timbre and color are captured here—just witness the cadenza in the third movement of K 456; one holds one’s breath when the fiery broken chordal passages change in their at first aggressive character into a chilling and ghostly whisper. When she wills it her legato is as smooth as silk, yet her articulation when it is demanded can be crisp, bouncy, and rounded all at once. Kraus has no “sound” in particular for Mozart. She finds the correct one when it is needed. Tempos tend to be on the quicker side for the Allegro movements. Sometimes they feel a bit rushed (as in the opening to the E?-Concerto) yet in general I find the tempos to be perfectly chosen, especially for the slow movements, which are often played at funereal speeds.

The little sonata movement for violin and piano is composed of a gentle Andante followed by a lively and energetic Allegretto . Kraus is joined by Szymon Goldberg, once concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic. One can feel these two artists breathe together as they play this music with heartfelt sincerity. Though this is a tiny and simple movement, the artists pay as close attention to details as in the major works. The small Rondo for Piano and Orchestra, K 386, features Australian pianist Eileen Joyce. It is especially wonderful to hear the pianist in something a bit more substantial than her spectacular recital of miniatures (on Testament 1174—if you haven’t heard it, run out and grab it; it is that fabulous!). Though the same problems of orchestral intonation mar this otherwise wonderfully spirited recording, the essence of the music is beautifully transmitted.

These are all wonderful but dated performances. If sound quality is important to you, stay away—these recording are especially flat in the orchestral parts. But, if you’re interested to hear how Mozart was performed in the earlier part of the century (and the spirit in which these pieces should be played), look no further.

FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 18 in B flat major, K 456 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Lili Kraus (Piano)
Conductor:  Walter Goehr
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1938 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London 
Concerto for Piano no 9 in E flat major, K 271 "Jeunehomme" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Lili Kraus (Piano)
Conductor:  Walter Susskind
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1777; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1948 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in C major, K 404 (385d) [Fragment] by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Szymon Goldberg (Violin), Lili Kraus (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/21/1937 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 3, London 
Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in A major, K 386 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Eileen Joyce (Piano)
Conductor:  Clarence Raybould
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/05/1936 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 2, London 

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