- 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: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,687 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 23, K488 & No.24, K491 CD
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Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos.24 & 23
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Widely regarded as one of the foremost Mozart interpreters of our time: Mitsuko Uchida returns, conducting the orchestra herself from the piano, with live performances of two of Mozart's most popular concertos. Mozart entered the A major Concerto, K488 into his catalogue of works on March 2, 1786: A piano concerto. In the A major concerto, the meticulous accompaniment adds a softer, more intimate sound, which is also helped by the absences of festive trumpets and timpani. On March 24, 1786, Mozart entered the concerto in C minor, K491 in his catalogue. The piece calls for the largest orchestra that he ever used in a concerto: a flute, pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets; timpani and strings. The expressive opening movement is shaped with its dramatic leaps and its lamenting chromatic lines.
"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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Top Customer Reviews
There is nothing in these performances not to like and much to learn to like in listening to the concertos, as is true of other recordings--symphonies, soloists, operas, and superb performances by superbly gifted musicians, and the excellent quality of the sound on music CDs these days. For many of these reasons, I love it.
of the c-minor concerto; I on the contrary enjoyed her approach. After all, it is one of his romantic works. The performance of # 23 was also flawless. Alltogether, an excellent release.
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. This slow rondo gets an excellent performance here, but again, Uchida is up against some stiff competetion, including her own earlier version. This new one is, once more, very good, but it doesn't surpass the 1980s recording (or those of other artists, such as Cassadesus, Brendel, et al.)
The finale is also very well done, and I like Uchida's decision to cut back the strings to chamber proportions in the episodes between strings and winds, but again, I can't say this is an advance over any earlier performance. Adding this up, we have a very fine performance (with a somewhat Romantic view of the first movement)which just misses great.
Much the same can be said for the new performance of the A major concerto. It should bounce along with a bit more sprightliness and should present an 18th century pathos in the slow movement, which Uchida's earlier account certainly does. Her new version is perhaps too Romanticized in its smoother approach. I like the finale, here, but it doesn't add anything new to our understanding of this etherial music.
The tempos of both works are only slightly slower in these new performances (the A major's slow mvt. is slightly faster, but seems a bit slower), but the overall time somehow seems slower, at least in the c minor work.
I love Mitsuko Uchida, but I can't say this disc adds anything new to her discography. She's developing as a conductor, but maybe this music really requires a seperate conductor to do it full justice. Sound is, of course, excellent. Full and rich. Detailed and well balanced.
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". The sublime Adagio of K488 is almost unbearable in its poignancy and recalls the emotional world of "Porgi amor" and "Dove sono"; similarly the "Larghetto" of K491, while offering more consolation, is always close to tears, especially in Uchida's conception. She both plays and directs from the keyboard, securing beautiful playing from a reduced Cleveland Orchestra, especially in the woodwind (despite a little blooper from the clarinets at 30', track 2). You would barely know that this recording was taken from two live performances; audience intrusion is absolutely minimal and the sound unimpeachable.
This is, then, in a sense, a more "Romantic" account of these masterpieces but any sense of indulgence is counteracted by the poised classicism of Uchida's touch and the restraint of the orchestral accompaniment, despite its coming from a fairly big band. I believe that I shall find myself returning to them more often than I at first thought.