Mozart Piano Concertos 19 & 23
Deluxe Edition, Ltd ed.
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This album marks two 'firsts' for Hélène Grimaud - her first live DG recording and her first ever Mozart concerto recording. The album is the culmination of a musical love affair which began two years ago when the French pianist played Bach with the Kammerorchester des Symphonieorchesters des Bayerischen Rundfunks (Chamber Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio). From the beginning there was a very special chemistry and musical understanding. In May this year Hélène Grimaud returned to Munich to play Mozart with the orchestra led by her from the piano, in collaboration with the concert master Radoslaw Szulc. The pianist was so excited by the concerts that she was inspired to release this live recording. As well as the two concertos, the album includes the beautiful concert aria for orchestra, soprano and piano 'Ch'io mi scordi di te', sung by Mojca Erdmann. Hélène has loved this aria since she first heard it as a child and for her it represents what is most characteristic in Mozart's music: grace and tenderness. The aria was Mozart's declaration of love to the soprano Nancy Storace, his Susanna in the world premiere of "Le nozze di Figaro". It was composed in 1786, the same year as the Piano Concerto No.23 which it joins here.
From the Artist
Hélène Grimaud considers the concerto in A major "probably the most sublime concerto Mozart ever wrote", with a slow movement that is "an extremely deep and painful expression of longing, where you find the real Mozart." The concerto was a 'must-have' for this collaboration. The concerto in F major K459 is less well-known, but with a very special vitality and a virtuosic finale that is for Grimaud, "pure pianistic pleasure"
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In the CD, there are three major Mozart pieces : The F major # 19 (K.459) and the A minor, # 23 (K. 488) concerti, plus the incredibly beautiful aria "Ch'io mi scordi di te?" - "Non temer, amato bene" (translation = I forget you?-Do not fear, O best-beloved)from the opera "Idomenco".
You are reading this review because you are an avid Mozart lover, so I don't need to elaborate about these two concerti except for the fact that they are played in a very new, refreshing and stylish Hélène Grimaud's way. If you like her music style, you will love this CD. I, of course, fell deeply in love with it.
Her tempo on both concerti is a little, say, faster than Mitsuko Uchida. But Hélène is presenting a very fresh interpretation of her own. It will take you a while to jump from Uchida to Hélène. But both are wonderful artists. I think it would not hurt if you have a different rendition by Hélène.
There are two things of note, both are in the A major concerto K. 488 :
1) The cadenza is composed by Ferruccio Busoni, first played by Horowitz with Carlo Maria Giulini and the La Scala orchestra. Hélène is quite fond of Busino's music. One of her very early recording of Bach's Chaconne was also interpreted by Busoni.
2) The second movement on the same concerto, the Adagio in F sharp minor, was played VERY slowly. This is because Hélène thinks of it as a very emotional, loving piece of music. And it show in her interpretation. You can almost "feel" the emotions that Hélène is trying to ooze out. Her performance on this concerto No. 23 is so fantastic that I do not know how to write appropriately to tell you.
Finally, the two aria K. 505 with a small chamber group and Hélène be the accompanying pianist. This again, alone, is worth the price of the admission. Mozart's arias have always been lovely, but our saprano Mojca Erdmann is so good she takes my breath away, singing two arias from Mozart, the wunderkind's opera Idomenca !
Lastly, the sound and the recording is superb. DGG has not come out with such a wonderful recording for a while. The concerti are recorded LIVE with Hélène's own Steinway. The sound is crystal clear and good, the piano is perfectly tuned. The seldom heard Bayerischen orchestra is plain wonderful, controlled and never tried to compete with Hélène.
So how should I end my love review of this wonderful new CD? Well, let's say since I was a kid, people say that "Look at the East for the sun-rise". But now Hélène Grimaud said,"If you look from the North-east, you can still see the sun-rise, but it would have a different hue, different color, and maybe even more beautiful!".
I started listen to Mozart's simple piano sonatas when I was very young. After a while, everyone plays everything Mozart the same way. It become almost boring and we start chasing for new sounds, like music by Rachmaninoff or Prokofiev. Now Hélène said,"NO! There is another way!" Isn't that nice?
I hope she will continue to expand her Mozart repertoire so they we can enjoy Mozart again.
In all, a superb performance. Please try this "new" Mozart. You'll be happy you did.
A very special addition to this live performance is the appearance of Mojca Erdmann, the young and very beautiful Mozartean so highly regarded n Germany today. She performs Mozart's concert aria 'Ch'io mi scordi di te... Non temer, amato bene, K.505' effortlessly and with a purity of one and perfect placement of the voice. She is assuredly a soprano to watch!
This may be Hélène Grimaud's first approach to the concerti of Mozart, but given the beauty of this recording from a live performance it is likely not going to be her last. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, November 11