Notes and Editorial Reviews
A pianist of grace and refinement, Clifford Curzon brought sufficient depth to his playing to avoid the twin evils of so many Mozart performances of his era: bland facelessness and curlicued cuteness. His partner in these live performances from 1970 (the C minor) and 1976, Rafael Kubelik, imbued his work with a Romantic spirit that inspired the pianist to more spontaneous playing than his studio recordings often suggest. Even in our age of trendy Mozart Lite, with its penchant for small-scale performance, clipped phrase-endings, and fast-to-faster tempos, these ripe readings are irresistible. In the Andante of the C major Concerto, forever branded as the "Elvira Madigan", Kubelik's strings sweetly, slowly sing the gorgeous theme, the music breathing in a way purists will condemn as "sentimental" but which I found captivating. Curzon's piano entrance mirrors the limpid phrasing of the orchestra, its rise and flow of the melodic line worthy of the great opera aria it truly is. Curzon's light-fingered high spirits in the third movement capture the vivace flavor, though here and in several other places in both concertos you feel that the orchestra would prefer to linger a bit.
Curzon and Kubelik bring a similar depth to the C minor Concerto, perhaps Mozart's darkest. Kubelik's forceful opening measures set the tone, after which the urgent drama is picked up by Curzon's solo entrance, and the quiet, almost hesitant figure urges the strings to a warmer, more lyrical poetry. It's amazing how in three or four minutes Mozart encapsulates the great drama of the Andante of Beethoven's Fourth Concerto. It's also impressive how tall this disc stands, even in a crowded field, and it's aided by sound that's perfectly adequate especially given the performances' live-1970s-concert origins.
--Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com