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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the grand tradition of outstanding Mozart concerto recordings, August 5, 2011
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This review is from: Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 & 25 ~ Fray / van Zweden (Audio CD)
Van Zweden and Fray begin K. 482 at Edwin Fischer's precise tempo to the nanosecond, and Fray plays Fischer's cadenzas, so it's no surprise that this is one of the very best versions of the work since Fischer in 1935/1954 and Wanda Landowska live in 1945 with Rodzinski/NYPO. There is no higher praise. Splendid, full-blooded all-out playing,, big dynamic range, no steady mezzoforte for them, and the great C-minor slow-movement.

In K. 503 Fray plays Friedrich Gulda's excellent cadenzas, but I would have preferred Fischer's again. Fray adds a few embellishments and left-hand fillers of his own, most of which work. Here the collector thinks back to Edwin Fischer again (1946-1947 Salzburg/VPO and PO/Krips), Michelangeli and Fou Ts'ong, who re-introduced the work to 20th-Century audiences. Fray is of their company, and his new recording takes its place on the shelf with theirs. My only reservation is that the woodwinds other than flute are recessed, even against accompanying figures in the piano, and hard to hear unless you know already where to look. But the excellent recording catches many new details.

Other worthy versions by Haskil, Pietro Scarpini, Rubinstein, Annie Fischer, Perahia, Anda, Buchbinder, Uchida, Richter, Gulda himself, Badura-Skoda add strength to a very deep bench, but Edwin Fischer, Michelangeli, and now Fray are of the very first water.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 7, 2011 5:47:25 PM PDT
You mention Rubinstein in the list of preferred versions, presumably of Nos. 22 and 25. While my knowledge of Rubinstein's discography is not exhaustive, I am aware of recordings of Mozart Concertos Nos. 17, 20, 21, 23 (both in the studio under Wallenstein and in concert with Barbirolli), and 24, but not including Nos. 22 and 25. If recordings exist, I'd be interesting in tracking them down.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2011 6:44:10 PM PDT
Piso Mojado says:
I was unclear, Virginia O. F., and am sorry to disappoint, as I also rate Rubinstein's Mozart very high. In fact, his No. 23 ... his first was on 78s with Vladimir Golschmann and St. Louis SO, is the best I know, particularly in the F#-minor slow-movement ... but he never recorded No. 22. I meant only to name him among other notable pianists I'd heard whose recordings of (other) Mozart concertos I liked. I didn't name Leon Fleisher, for instance, because I've never heard his widely admired version of No. 25 in C K. 503.

I first forgot to mention Wanda Landowska, who DID record No. 22 in a favourite version, live with the NYPO and Rodzinski in 1945.

Posted on Aug 10, 2011 3:55:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 10, 2011 3:56:03 AM PDT
meadow says:
"My only reservation is that the woodwinds other than flute are recessed, even against accompanying figures in the piano, and hard to hear unless you know already where to look."

That's exactly how I feel. Thank you, I thought there was a problem with my hearing. In this Bruno Monsaingeon documentary, the sound is absolutely stunning!
http://www.medici.tv/#!/david-fray-records-mozart-concerto-no-22-k-482-bruno-monsaingeon

In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2012 4:21:50 PM PDT
Having heard him in recital, I am now more interested in Fray, and I will hear van Zweden in London this summer. If the BSO has any sense, they will go after him as music director to replace Levine. Musicians love van Zweden, and as former concertmaster of the Concertgebouw, he is impeccably musical. the BSO was favoring chailly, but then he cancelled for health problems, and the specter of a repeat of the Levine catastrophe took him off the list.

Maybe Andris Nelsons would be a good choice.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 9:10:30 AM PDT
Piso Mojado says:
Van Zweden is a meticulous, impressive conductor and would be a wizard choice for Boston, although he's heavily committed still in his native Holland, and as guest (including Chicago, where I've heard him), and as music director at Dallas, but their financial problems might cause him to move on.

David Fray and Van Zweden will play Mozart's 25th concerto, K. 503, in Chicago next season. Fray played an excellent recital here earlier this year, Mozart and Beethoven. He's an interesting and conspicuously outstanding young pianist with his own ideas about things. He is also, as everyone knows, Riccardo Muti's son-in-law, although we have yet to see them in famiglia.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 9:31:11 AM PDT
If that Fray recital was the same one he played at Wigmore Hall, that's the one that impressed me last summer.
Mozart
Piano Sonata in D K311
Beethoven
Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Op. 28 `Pastoral'
Mozart
Fantasia in C minor K475
Beethoven
Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Op. 53 `Waldstein'

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 9:44:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2012 12:06:49 PM PDT
Piso Mojado says:
That's the same imipressive program, exactly, SFL, that David Fray played in Orchestra Hall, Chicago. I would dearly love to hear a recital in the Wigmore (nee Bechstein) Hall, which is now renovated. Perhaps even "newly" renovated! Ideal size, about 600-700 seats, isn't it? Fortunately Gerald Finley, Marc-Andre Hamelin, and others have been recorded there and released on varios CD labels, including Wigmore's own. Paul Lewis has played there over fifty times.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 10:45:09 AM PDT
Fifty times? amazing. I have a funny gig in London where I cat sit for an old high school friend. So I take advantage and attend at least one and sometimes two concerts a day. The ushers smile knowingly when they see me walk into Wigmore Hall - I am an addicted wiggie.

And Stephen Hough. He came to Santa Fe this season, and in every way he's a gentle, well-spoken person with great technical gifts. but he doesn't show much feeling in his interpretations, a strange thing since that has always been the hallmark of English pianists, even when they didn't have world-class technique.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 12:34:19 PM PDT
Piso Mojado says:
Perhaps the Wiggie ushers are smiling because they recognise the cat? That's a good gig. Once I just made three recitals in one day; it was two too many, and only half of the third. (Krystian Zimerman, Werner Baertschli, and a third I've forgotten).

Stephen Hough recorded Mocart's 9th and 21st concertos for EMI early on, in 1987 with the Halle Orchestra and Bryden Thompson, playing his own cadenzas in No. 21. He has been playing Rachmaninooff's Third, in which he is slightly mis-cast, and all four of Tchaikovsky's piano-and-orchestra works, in which he is just a little over-parted. We had Denis Matsuev and Niolai Lugansky in Rachmaninoff's Third recently. I didn't hear Horowitz, and don't expect to hear it played live better than Matsuev, with Gergiev.

I like Hough and have followed his career for 25 years. He is as you describe him. I collected his ideal piano albums, first on MMA, then Virgin, and Beethoven violin sonatas on MMA with Robert Mann that may have been Hough's first records except for an LP of Liapunoff, &tc. Good on Saint-Saens, don't you think? Although the ghosts of Cortot and Moiseiwitsch loom. They are, in fact, two of Hough's favourite pianists.

The reticence of British pianists is roverbial. You've mentioned John Ogden, who is anything but. Stephen Coombs has real anache in Bortkiewicz's first concerto; even Solomon becomes un-patrician for Liszt's Hungarian Fantasy", which I like more even than Moiseiwitsch's.

Should we be discussing this by E-mail?

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 1:17:16 PM PDT
We can discuss either way. I see that you follow Hough extensively, whereas I only dip in and out. Ath the Proms two years ago I heard him in the first two Tchaikovsky concertos. He was very impressive holding the Second together, but there was something missing in the bravura First - I think that piece has been ruined for me by real lions of the keyboard like Argerich, Pogorelich, and above all that horrible sounding APR release of Horowitz in concert from the Forties.

I've heard both LUgansky and Matsuev in Rachmaninoff at the Proms. Lugansky can be mannered and self-absorbed, but Matsuev is a giant in the making along the old Russian lines. My bet for the most artistic rising pianist is Rafal Blechacz, who did a spectacular debut album for DG after winning the Warsaw Chopin competition, where he was given all the gold meals as well as the overall win. But he's getting a PhD right now and has a curtailed career.

I liked Jonathan Biss a lot when he first appeared, but his new, and I think premature, Beethoven sonata cycle on Onyx isn't very exciting. Yuliana Avdeeva won the last Chopin competition but got the short end of the stick when big recording contracts went to Ingolf Wunder and Trifomov instead. Listen to her YouTube video of the Fourth Ballade - there's something special there. I'm also with the crowd in loving YYuja wang but getting colder on Yundi and Lang Lang.
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