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Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 13 & 14

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 9, 1989
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Editorial Reviews

Mozart Piano Concerto in C Piano Concerto in E Flat Mitsuko Uchilda English Chamber Orchestra Jeffrey Tate

Product Details

  • Performer: Mitsuko Uchida
  • Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra
  • Conductor: Jeffrey Tate
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (May 9, 1989)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B00000E3V4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,760 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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This time they should get it right: In cover, Jeffrey Tate has crossed his hands for prayer. He looks to be near despair. Uchida has an air of more easiness, but her dress is fancy. There is some nervousness in the beginning of the K415, but the orchestra warms up quickly. Uchida needs not time to adapt her playing - there is almost old-school readiness (Arrau) and modern flexibility to catch all changing moods of this concerto. Andante sings very inwardly, defining the mood of central section of finale. This is not exactly the finale for showy brilliance. Uchida sounds very concentrated to this concerto and her hands are agile to get all the nyances needed. But what is this rondo all about? There are nightmarish silent sections, moments without direction and purpose. And there is a song that comes back and leave us that uneasy feeling.

For K449, marks have set up very high. Even in the ancient penal colonies this concerto has labeled as "the miracle of cosmos". Once again, our protagonists take their task with unnecessary feel of the burden of destiny. This is not a concerto to start like Volvo 1.6 D engine, the fire should be there from the beginning. This is sort of autopilot playing, makes one wonder if the statement about miracle is right at all. Luckily, Andantino is Uchida's piece, she finds depths from her keyboard that Tate is unable to find from his orchestra, but he is doing his best. At this level of playing, the reputation of this concerto is honored, but not served better than that. The finale and its first piano solo is for me one of the great big arches of the whole piano literary, bar after bar growing tension and endless melody if there is such a thing. Uchida plays it, well, I am sad to say. There is too much willingness to pause when one should go on. It is sad, when one has such reserves to make this universe a better place.
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One of the great Mozart piano concerto recording cycles of all times was done during the 1980s with Dame Mitsuko Uchida, Jeffrey Tate, and the English Chamber Orchestra for Philips. The balance between grandiosity and performance practice, utilizing modern (albeit largely modest) orchestral forces, helped to keep these concertos in the public eye long after at least half of the total number of them had become permanent warhorses in the concert halls, including the ubiquitous Elvira Madigan Concerto (#21), as well as the darker, minor-key ones (nos. 20 & 24).

On this CD, Uchida, together with Tate and the ECO, takes on the two works in the middle of the Mozart piano concerto canon, nos. 13 & 14. Both were written a year apart, in 1783 and 1784 respectively; and both are strikingly different in character. The 13th, in the key of C Major, is the more grandiose of the two, utilizing, for the first time in the Mozart piano concerto literature since No. 5, trumpets and timpani; while No. 14, in E Flat Major, is of a more modest stripe, doing away with the trumpets and timpani and utilizing chamber-like forces. Mozart would go on to compose larger piano concertos later on in life (each of the last three last just slightly over thirty minutes in length), but for now he was just starting to hit his stride. Dame Mitsuko brings out the most in both concertos; and under Tate's concise direction, the English Chamber Orchestra shows why it is one of the premiere Mozart orchestras of the world.

Despite having been made some twenty-five years ago (May 1987 for No. 13; May 1988 for No. 14), these recordings don't seem to show their age, and neither do the performers. And given that there isn't exactly a glut of individual recordings of these two particular concertos, I give this one a firm recommendation. It may be a cliché to say it, but this is a recording to cherish.
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Mitsuko Uchida's interpretation of Mozart's piano concertos are my favorites. I love her pace and clarity. Love Mozart? Try this and others in the series for a fine collection.
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