One of the great classical music cycles of the 1980s was the one that pianist Mitsuko Uchida made in collaboration with conductor Jeffrey Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra in the middle and latter years of the decade of all the twenty-seven piano concertos (plus the two single-movement concert rondos) of Mozart for Philips. This particular recording of two concertos of the middle third of W.A. Mozart's output is an example of why the set was so highly acclaimed.
Both concertos were completed fairly fast, probably within days of one another, in the first quarter of 1784; and to listen to them, at least in terms of orchestration, they are sure-fire examples of Mozart having his way with experimenting with the orchestral coloring surrounding the soloist. The 15th, in B Flat Major, is scored for a single flute, plus pairs of oboes, bassoons, and horns, plus the usual string compliment; while the 16th adds in a pair of trumpets and timpani for something of a martial effect; given that it's in D Major, this is a lot less surprising. It is, surprisingly, the lighter-scored 15th concerto that carries the greater amount of pianistic virtuosity required, while the 16th really presages the larger concertos Mozart would throw everyone's way in the final seven and a half years of his life.
Fortunately, Mozart is in good hands of this recording, with Dame Mitsuko in fine form, and the dedicated Mozart combine of Tate and the E.C.O. give her nothing but the best possible accompaniment. The technical challenges of #15, and the slightly martial nature of #16, are ably handled by all concerned. Whether part of the whole complete Mozart concerto cycle involving Uchida, Tate, and the English Chamber Orchestra, or as a separate entity, as here, this is a recording for any Mozartean aficionado to get into their collection post-haste.
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