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Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 23, K488 & No.24, K491 CD

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"Miss Uchida played gracefully and with the flair listeners have come to expect from her...She endows the solo line with a rightness and an inevitability, yet there is originality in the way she shapes every phrase, and remarkable subtlety in her coloration." -- New York Times

"We still had the thrill of Uchida, embodying Mozart's recollections of joy and sorrow with dancing subtlety and love." -- The Times, London
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Cleveland Orchestra
  • Conductor: Mitsuko Uchida
  • Composer: Mozart
  • Audio CD (September 8, 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B002GJ3MR6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,953 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By stevenrothbard on October 8, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Decca has just released this disc of Mitsuko Ucida's excellent readings of Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos. 23 and 24 with The Cleveland Orchestra, but it doesn't surpass Uchida's earlier accounts from the 1980s conducted by Jeffrey Tate, available on Phillips. Perhaps it's because she takes the roles of both soloist and conductor in this new release, but I see no real improvement or advance in either execution or insights into the music here.

One example of this is in the first movement cadenza of the c minor concerto. Uchida's earlier version's cadenza is a minor masterpiece of Mozart-style piano writing and playing, and is quite exciting, but her new cadenza for the same movement is really not on the same level. It's certainly interesting, but it doesn't do anything as exciting as the earlier one. Perhaps it's a touch more Romantic, and so is the entire performance, with a much larger ensemble than either Tate, with the English Chamber Orch., or the great George Szell's classic account on Sony with Robert Cassadesues, which lists the orchestra as consisting of "members of The Cleveland Orchestra." This is massive and monumental Mozart on a large scale rather than intimate and classical. The playing (especially of the winds) is, naturally, excellent, but the size of the band is almost too big for this piece, and I find the playing a bit too smoothed over (Romantic) for Mozart. Tate got the accents better in his more striking realization for Uchida's earlier version.

There is also very fine wind playing here in the episodes of the slow movement (as there is in their earlier recording with Szell)and the chamber music textures deliver some wonderful give and take between instrumental choirs (winds and strings) and between winds and piano.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 28, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I first found myself in complete agreement with the previous reviewer's balanced and intelligent assessment but subsequent listenings to this interesting and subtle disc have left me unsure. It is certainly not as light or playful as her earlier Philips versions and the emphasis in both concertos here is often more upon sombre introspection, yet Uchida has something profound and even slightly disturbing to say about this music, based on long acquaintance and reflection. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that she has (unbelievably) now entered her seventh decade of life. Speeds are measured and momentary, deliberate hesitations in the series of light fifth interval leaps following the entry of the piano in the opening of K491 underline the kind of metaphysical doubt pervading her interpretation. Although the "opera buffa" style conclusion to K488 is spritely and Uchida plays with all her customary elegance and charm, and although the piano sings under her delicate touch, an inescapable melancholy colours her every utterance. This is another way to play Mozart; if you require more insouciance and sparkle, look elsewhere, perhaps to Perahia, or even the excellent "Brilliant" bargain set of complete concertos played by Derek Han.

These two concertos are often thought of as a good contrasting pair, ideal for a live concert programme (such as that from which this recording is taken), but Uchida suggests that this that these characterisations are superficial and in particular undermines the supposed geniality of K488, reminding us that they were composed within a few weeks of each other in March 1786, while Mozart was simultaneously working on "The Marriage of Figaro".
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Raymond Vacchino on January 7, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This newly released recording of Mitsuko Uchida revisiting Mozart's Piano Concertos No.23, K.488 in A; and No.24, K.491 in C minor; is a challenge for anyone to write a review about! The two reviews before my own only proves this point by highlighting the fact that trying to compare differences between Uchida's Phillips disc, and this recent Decca version is indeed a grim task in "splitting hairs!"

Mozart's concerto writing reaches a climax in the Piano Concerto in C minor, K.491 (1786).

Uchida, now somewhat older and all the wiser handles the virtuosic demands this kind of music-making imposes with exceptional stylistic command and supreme concentration throughout. In K.491 performed before K.488,is polished as one may expect it to be, but Uchida further renders an allure and spontaneity that are absolute joy. As well, details of scoring in the orchestral expositions of the first movements rarely receive such interest in voicing and characterised definition. In a Mozart concerto one feels that the pianist behaves like a character in an opera. This comes from a dramatization between soloist and orchestra. We wait for the entry of the soloist from the beginning of the orchestral Exposition.

Uchida does not let us down in this respect either. Simply judge her first entry in this concerto's solo theme: there is no other more difficult to manage. Uchida provides the range, the control and the rhetoric necessary to pull it off. Another difficult challenge is overcome by Uchida in this first movement by providing us with an impressive cadenza. Mozart is always demanding, not physically, but in concentrating to find the right character and atmosphere. It becomes an outstanding occurrence of this movement, to be returned to again and again.
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Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 23, K488 & No.24, K491
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