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Mozart: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 20 & 21 / Van Oort, Ciofini, Accademia Hermans

Mozart / Van Oort / Ciofini
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Bottega Discantica   Catalog #: 254   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Bart Van Oort
Conductor:  Fabio Ciofini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Hermans
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Piano Concertos: No. 20; No. 21 Bart van Oort (fp); Fabio Ciofini, cond; Accademia Hermans (period instruments) LA BOTTEGA DISCANTICA 254 (58:30)

The more I listen to fine performances of Mozart’s concertos and symphonies on period instruments, the less tolerant I am of hearing these works on modern instruments. In particular, the fineness of timbre and the sinewy texture on the present disc make it an entirely different experience to a performance on modern equivalents. Some listeners find the Read more fortepiano of Mozart’s time such a disconcertingly different sound from the present day Steinway that they cannot accept it. As Colin Davis said in a New York Times interview in 2011, period-performance practice is “an irrelevance.” Bart van Oort plays a copy of a c. 1795 fortepiano from the Viennese firm of Anton Walter. Melvyn Tan played a copy of the same vintage Anton Walter in his marvelously successful versions of Beethoven’s early piano sonatas. It’s worth noting that, had van Oort played a fortepiano from the year of these concertos’ composition, 1785, its sound would have been tinnier and not as loud. Fortepiano manufacture achieved dramatic strides during the years of the Classical period. Steven Lubin, in his recordings of Beethoven’s piano concertos, made a point of not using fortepianos designed later than the premiere of each concerto. So, strictly speaking, van Oort presents a period performance accurate for a few years after Mozart’s death. One cannot deny, however, the excellent balance between van Oort’s instrument and Fabio Ciofini’s orchestra. In purely musical terms, it’s highly successful.

As Concerto No. 20 begins, the orchestra’s 13 strings produce a well-accented sound with bite. Van Oort plays the first movement with dash and elan. He doesn’t use Beethoven’s cadenzas for this concerto. Here, the uncredited cadenza (is it van Oort’s?) allows the soloist considerable freedom in tempo and dynamics. In the next movement, as befits a romance, the playing of soloist and orchestra is highly affectionate. Van Oort uses ornamentation copiously and effectively. The B section offers a kaleidoscopic sound from the fortepiano. The A section’s return provides van Oort with considerable freedom prior to the orchestra’s entrance. The final movement is fast but not rushed. Van Oort plays it with considerable poise. A broad range of colors comes from the orchestra, especially the winds. The cadenza employs grave gestures, and the coda is thrilling.

As No. 21 opens, the playing is truly Maestoso , with wonderful thwacks from the timpani. Van Oort performs with elegance and fervor. A highly passionate dialogue is maintained between soloist and orchestra. The uncredited cadenza explores the thematic material’s darker side. As the famous Andante opens, the violins’ pure tone, without vibrato, is especially beguiling. Van Oort coaxes a rich sound from his fortepiano. He employs less ornamentation here than in No. 20’s slow movement, leaving the great tune relatively unadorned. Jörg Demus’s 1975 period-instrument performance of this movement with the Collegium Aureum is over a minute and a half slower, but not as effective. The present CD’s last movement brings notable fireworks from soloist and orchestra. Van Oort displays considerable temperament. The cadenza is in a learned style. Overall, I can’t remember enjoying these two concertos more than with this disc. The sound engineering is clear and robust. If you are looking for modern-instrument recordings of these works, I would recommend Rudolf Serkin with George Szell in No. 20, and for No. 21 the famous Géza Anda version on DG. Bart van Oort and Fabio Ciofini’s disc ranks with Roger Norrington’s Stuttgart renditions of the symphonies as among the finest period-performance accounts of Mozart I know. If you never have heard a fortepiano in Mozart, this is an excellent place to start.

FANFARE: Dave Saemann
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Bart Van Oort (Fortepiano)
Conductor:  Fabio Ciofini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Hermans
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Teatro Cucinelli, Solomeo (Perugia) 
Length: 30 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Concerto for Piano no 21 in C major, K 467 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Bart Van Oort (Fortepiano)
Conductor:  Fabio Ciofini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Hermans
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Teatro Cucinelli, Solomeo (Perugia) 
Length: 28 Minutes 13 Secs. 

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