Sony Classical 88691 91411-2
Concerto – selected comparisons:
Anda, Salzburg Mozarteum (4/66) (R) 2535 350 Haebler, LSO, Rowicki (12/68) (10/83) (R) 6527 147 This is the last of Murray Perahia’s Mozart concerto recordings to be issued; it is certainly one of the most distinguished. The D major Concerto, K537, completed on February 24, 1788, is not, perhaps a work of such individuality as the 12 concertos which preceded it in 1784-6, or the only one which succeeded it (K595 in B flat of 1791), yet it used to be one of the most popular, probably because it has a convenient nickname, stemming from the fact that Mozart performed it on October 15, 1790, at the festivities accompanying the coronation of the Emperor Leopold II in Frankfurt am Main. Now, curiously enough, it is not played all that often, and there is only a handful of recorded versions at present available, of which perhaps the best are by Géza Anda (coupled with K414 in A on DG) and by Ingrid Haebler (coupled with K467 in C on Philips), though the former lacks real stature and the latter is rather pallid. Perahia is much better than either of them: dignified yet never aloof in the first movement, eloquent in the central Larghetto (which he decorates tastefully), and marvellously agile and dexterous in the florid concluding Rondo. He plays his own characteristically stylish cadenza in the first movement (Mozart’s own has not survived, but for many years the one he wrote for an earlier concerto in the same key, K451, was wrongly associated with the Coronation Concerto).
As a coupling Perahia gives us the two concert rondos: K382 in D, a Viennese alternative finale for the Salzburg D major Concerto, K175; and K386 in A, presumably the original, rejected finale of K414. The A major Rondo has had an eventful history, having been cut into pieces in the 19th century for use as greeting cards (!), and patched together subsequently by numerous editors, including Alfred Einstein, Paul Badura-Skoda, Sir Charles Mackerras and Erik Smith. The version performed here has a different ending which was recently discovered by Peter Tyson. It was completed by Paul Badura-Skoda and is soon to be published by Schott’s, this is its first recording. The performances are sheer delight and, as in the concerto, the ECO play, quite literally, con amore – a spirit evidently shared by the CBS recording team. Robin Golding (10/84)
14 Murray Perahia
Mozart Piano Concertos – No 1 in F, K37; No 2 in B flat, K39; No 3 in D, K40; No 4 in G, K41 English Chamber Orchestra / Murray Perahia pf
Three Concertos (arr after JC Bach), K107 – No 1 in D; No 2 in G; No 3 in E flat Schröter Piano Concerto in C, Op 3 No 3 English Chamber Orchestra / Murray Perahia pf
Piano Concertos – No 6 in B flat, K238; No 13 in C, K415 / 387b English Chamber Orchestra / Murray Perahia pf
Piano Concertos – No 19 in F, K459; No 23 in A, K488 English Chamber Orchestra / Murray Perahia pf Sony Classical 88691 91411-2
These four issues really do complete the distinguished series of Mozart concerto recordings by Murray Perahia and the ECO on CBS, the first of whose 19 records/ cassettes (comprising all the solo concertos and the two concert rondos, but not the concertos for two or three pianos) was issued, incredible though it may seem, nearly nine years ago, in May 1976. From the beginning, Perahia’s interpretations were marked by their subtlety and refinement, and over the years there has been a gradual but appreciable increase in their feeling of authority and of a growing sense of rapport between pianist and orchestra, so that as a cycle they must be counted among the most satisfying – certainly the most chambermusical in spirit – of the various recorded versions made by soloists directing from the keyboard, which include those by Géza Anda (DG), Daniel Barenboim (HMV), and Vladimir Ashkenazy (Decca) – the Ashkenazy still not quite complete.
Two of the new LPs are devoted to seven early works that are adaptations of music by other composers and therefore not normally counted among the complete series of Mozart’s concertos. The first four (K37, 39, 40 and 41) were written between April and July 1767, when Mozart was 11 and are based on sonata movements mostly by German composers active in Paris (such as Leontzi Honauer, Hermann Friedrich Raupach and Johann Schobert). There is a good case for splitting them up among recordings of the mature concertos, rather than putting them all on one record (and for playing them on a fortepiano, rather than a modern grand), yet Perahia plays them with such freshness and charm that it is impossible not to be captivated by the performances. The same can be said of the second record which is devoted to three concertos (K107 Nos 1-3) which Mozart arranged in 1772 from three sonatas (Op 5 Nos 2-4) by Johann Christian Bach: one in three movements, the other two in two. In all seven concertos the interest lies less in the substance of the music itself than in the evidence they offer of the young Mozart’s growing mastery of the concerto style, but it would be difficult to imagine more persuasive interpretations of them than these by Perahia and his friends and colleagues in the ECO. As a bonus, they also give us, as a filler for the second record, an attractive three-movement Concerto in C, Op 3 No 3 by Johann Samuel Schröter, whom Mozart admired, and for three of whose concertos (though not this one) he wrote cadenzas for his own use. With the two remaining records we move into familiar territory. One is devoted to the second of Mozart’s mature Salzburg piano concertos, K238 in B flat (January 1776), and to K415/387b in C, the third of three concertos he composed in the winter of
‘Perahia plays them with such freshness and charm that it is impossible not to be captivated by the performances’
1782-3 in Vienna. Perahia’s account of K238 brings out all the music’s geniality, not least in the witty concluding Rondeau, with its horn fanfares. In the first and third movements he replaces Mozart’s own very short cadenzas with more substantial ones by Artur Balsam; in the gentle Andante which separates them he plays his own. The Concerto in C, K415 was, like its companions K413 in F and 414 in A, originally scored for strings with optional oboes and horns (a deliberate selling-point), but later Mozart added bassoons, trumpets and timpani, which emphasize the ceremonial, extrovert character of the two outer movements. Perahia’s performance captures this quality perfectly and is remarkable for the way it brings out orchestral detail that often goes unnoticed.
It is perhaps significant that Perahia refrained from recording what is possibly the most familiar of all Mozart’s concertos, the A major, K488 (March 1786) until he was almost at the end of the series. It receives a performance that has obviously been most carefully considered – though this is not to suggest that in any way it lacks freshness or spontaneity. The first movement is taken at gramophone.co.uk