Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Concertos: No. 18 in B?; No. 19 in F
Arthur Schoonderwoerd (fp, cond); Cristofori
ACCENT 24278 (58:28)
On this disc, Arthur Schoonderwoerd plays a fortepiano that sounds like a harpsichord in front of a small orchestra (six strings, winds, and timpani) on period instruments. With the clipped phrasing he demands from the orchestra and the glassy sound he gets from his own instrument, Schoonderwoerd performs delicate, but convincing versions of these two concertos. The first movement of Concerto
No. 18, for instance, sounds not hilariously good-tempered or intense, but pleasantly jaunty. The timbres are light, and deliberately so. In his notes Schoonderwoerd bemoans the fact that “even current historical performance practice for Mozart’s music continues to be subjugated by the tonal idiom of the nineteenth century.” With its light textures and carefully accented phrases, his little orchestra attempts to evade that presumably romantic influence.
Schoonderwoerd doesn’t lack daring or even presumption. He notes that Concerto No. 19 has not been recorded with trumpets and timpani as Mozart’s handwritten score didn’t include such parts. Nonetheless, the composer’s also handwritten catalog does list those instruments. Here the argument gets murky: Maybe Mozart made a mistake, the pianist admits, especially as the piece is written in F Major, “not one of the typical ‘trumpet’ keys.” On the other hand, perhaps he intended to write them later. Intrigued, Schoonderwoerd asked Philip Tarr to reconstruct (it sounds a simple construction to me) trumpet and timpani parts. So there is another source of interest in these recordings.
One hears the difference immediately in one of the initial phrases. Tarr has the melody reinforced by a rather prominently recorded series of timpani strikes. Nor are the trumpets any more modestly recorded. One perhaps unintended result is that the strings sound a bit puny. Yet clearly this recording is interesting, and in many ways musically satisfying. I wouldn’t have this as my only recording of Concerto No. 19, but then most
readers probably have half a dozen recordings. I recommend this version for its unique virtues and inherent musicality, and thirdly for its sheer intellectual interest.
FANFARE: Michael Ullman
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