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Mozart: Piano Concertos 20 & 27 / Kissin, Kremerata Baltica

Release Date: 08/10/2010 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 26645   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Evgeny Kissin
Conductor:  Evgeni Kissin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Releases by Kissin are never less than fascinating: frozen moments captured along the way of this major pianist’s career. They can be a little erratic as Kissin’s flawless technique marries itself to his growing maturity. Good to report that this issue, then, is an almost unqualified success.

The first movement of No. 27 is brisk, a breath of fresh air if one compares it to the recently issued de Larrocha/LPO/Solti on Decca 478 2420 - recorded December 1977, there receiving its first international release. Kissin is all style, his orchestra
Read more responding with spot-on ensemble. In Kissin’s case, orchestral textures are light and frothy, his own articulation matching them exactly. Perhaps Kissin lacks the late-Mozart repose and serenity of Larrocha - or, for example, Brendel and the ASMF under Brendel on Philips - but his viewpoint is refreshing in the extreme. That he directs seems to strengthen the link between himself and the ensemble - particularly the wind and horns. Having seen Kissin on a number of occasions, his general demeanour always seems rather stiff, so it would be interesting to see him in action directing an ensemble. The cadenza (Mozart’s) is, overall, lighter than often heard, making deeper undercurrents, when they arrive, seem all the more pregnant with meaning. The evenness of fast passage-work will come as no surprise to Kissin admirers, but heard here in the context of this mature interpretation, it feels as if everything has come together.

Perhaps there is one miscalculation on Kissin’s part at 9:35 in the first movement, where the final note of a treble ascent is over-emphasised. The rarity of the occurrence makes it stand out all the more - would it even be noticed in a live performance or is it the repeated listenings on disc that make it obvious? The slow movement is miraculous in achieving intimacy but encompassing outbursts of surprising passion. The tempo of the finale is again brisk, but there is not a hint of rushing or crushing in the semiquaver activity. There is, however, a sense of urgency not often encountered in this movement, a sense that runs into the gripping cadenza.

This is not Kissin’s first Mozart No. 20. He has recorded it before with the Moscow Virtuosi under Spivakov (Russian Revelation and Brilliant Classics). Alas, I have not heard this Russian version; on Russian Revelation, it is coupled with Piano Concerto No. 12, the “little” A major. The orchestral exposition to the present K466’s first movement is darkly shifting, almost dangerous. Its energy is vastly different from that of, say, Barenboim/ECO (EMI). Barenboim’s is in your face; Kissin’s more subtle but no less involving. The same rapport as is in evidence in K595 is everywhere here. Woodwind lines intertwine in an illuminating way. Kissin’s way with syncopation - so vital in this movement - is at once alive and threatening. Accents can be more forceful than one might perhaps expect, but this fits in perfectly with the reading. Here, the cadenza is Beethoven’s. Kissin makes it into such a dramatic fantasia that it almost seems to have links to the extended opening solo of Beethoven’s own Choral Fantasy. The central Romanze flows beautifully, its tempo enabling its own central outburst to have the perfect mixture of onward motion and angst. It is the determined bite of each note of the initial ascent of K466’s final movement that sets out Kissin’s stall. This is a fitting finale and, again, Beethoven’s cadenza is perfect in its combination of summary and culmination.

The gap between the two concertos feels too short, if one opts to listen straight through. The end of K466 needs to register fully before one embarks on the very different K595. The recording throughout the disc (Producer, David Saks and Engineer, Arne Akselberg) is clear and unfailingly involving.

In summary, I enjoyed these performances more than I did the Kissin/LSO/Davis reading of No. 24 from 2008 (coupled with the Schumann). This is a most successful release.

-- Colin Clarke, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Evgeny Kissin (Piano)
Conductor:  Evgeni Kissin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Concerto for Piano no 27 in B flat major, K 595 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Evgeny Kissin (Piano)
Conductor:  Evgeni Kissin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 

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