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Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Plays Mozart

Mozart / Michelangeli,Arturo Benedetti
Release Date: 05/28/2013 
Label:  Ica Classics   Catalog #: 5103   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
Conductor:  Antoine de Bavier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Piano Concertos: No. 20 in d, K 466; No. 15 in B?, K 450 Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (pn); Antoine de Bavier, cond; Stuttgart RSO ICA 5103 (54:24) Live: Ludwigsburg 7/11/1956

Michelangeli’s Mozart is often criticized for having the same flaws as many of his other recordings: His playing is controlled, perhaps for some over-controlled to the point of being static in conception; his tempos are extreme, slower Read more than normal in the middle movements, faster than most in the outer ones; he is free with rhythms in certain places, perhaps more so in the cadenzas than elsewhere (I have little problem with this detail in these areas in particular). Some would call him cold, a surface performer who glosses over the true spirit of this music. But it is difficult to judge harshly a performer who is so very polished in his interpretation. Even if Michelangeli were not only in his mid-30s at the time of these readings, one would be hard-pressed to call these performances cold. Perhaps even more importantly, these readings took place in the 1950s, when every composer was still seen through 19th-century eyes in some way or another; the “informed” practice of the second half of the century was soon to begin—the research into original instrumentation, dynamics, articulation, etc.

When listening to Michelangeli’s Mozart as performed at Ludwigsburg, one is struck more by the forward-propelled, one might even say Beethovenian, momentum of his playing. In the D-Minor Concerto, it is the latter composer’s oft-played cadenzas, which Michelangeli has also chosen to perform. In his hands the entire work seems momentous, from the very first low orchestral grumblings of the opening movement, through the lyrical at times, stormy at others, Romanze , to the virtuosic and flighty finale. Michelangeli performs as expected: His tone is always beautiful and rounded, his scales and arpeggios are crystal clear, his control of dynamic shading and nuances is awe-inspiring; but even more importantly his energy is palpable as is his sense of danger. One sits on the edge of one’s seat when listening to this Mozart. The B?-Major Concerto, K 450, was one of the pianist’s favorites. This reading is filled with some of the best of the qualities of the D Minor, though here some of those negative complaints heaped upon the performer seem more justified: The tempo in the opening movement is too fast. There are moments which just sound rushed; the rhythmic quirks are evident from the very opening—initiated by the orchestra, these are later echoed by the soloist. Yet for all the flaws, there are moments which are just magical: the gorgeous opening trills of the cadenza, and even more so the dance-like lift the pianist gives to the second subject just a few moments later; the simple yet sincere way the forces play the second movement, especially the wonderful sense of dialogue they maintain throughout. And if one requires technical perfection for any of Mozart’s finales, it would certainly be this one—one of the most difficult of his concertos. Michelangeli is not one to disappoint.

If one requires Mozart to sound the way a Brendel, a Schiff, or a Perahia would perform these works, then one should look towards those other performers; but if one is open to a variety of approaches, then this Michelangeli will supplement one’s collection nicely—to me the very best Mozart that the pianist ever committed to disc (forget the old EMI or DG recordings)! Though the sound is still somewhat primitive and the orchestra a bit stiff in certain places, these are, regardless, performances to cherish.

FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (Piano)
Conductor:  Antoine de Bavier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 07/11/1956 
Concerto for Piano no 15 in B flat major, K 450 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (Piano)
Conductor:  Antoine de Bavier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 07/11/1956 

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