After hearing a superb Mozart 17th Concerto with Abbado, and excellent solo Schubert and a great set of Mozart sonatas (Denon), I thought I'd add this Pires disc to my collection. Unfortunately, it's not as good as those other fine efforts. (Her earlier set of Mozart sonatas is superb, and her 17th Concerto is the finest I've ever heard, with almost indescribable subtlties; I've reviewed that extraordinary disc elsewhere on Amazon.) Pires always plays with polish, but here, with all the polish comes a generic quality, a lack of personality. She's not helped by the orchestra or the conductor, who similarly play by-the-numbers interpretations devoid of any personality. But worse than that, they are shrill at times, and this isn't helped by the close miking. No. 23 is particularly short-changed. This is one of Mozart's deeper works--the slow movement in particular is very unique to his canon, and the only piece he ever wrote in the unusual key of F-sharp minor. This is not the type of "public Mozart" we frequently encounter in his more "brilliant" compositions, but very personal, reflective Mozart, and they reveal a rather quiet, melancholy man. (It's dangerous to attach literal meanings to Mozart's music in general, but this is such an extraordinary gesture that I feel he was trying to say something very personal.) Pires' playing doesn't get under that skin, it's not very convincing, and it's not even especially fluid or beautiful (unusual for her). But even the first movement is made plodding and lifeless by the conductor's choice of tempo.
As I said, the mikings are a bit close, leading to a bright, sometimes shrill sound. The final impression isn't very favorabe. In this hypercompetitive field, it's hard to recommend you make room on your shelf for this CD unless you are a Pires completist who must have all her recordings. Otherwise, there are better (Casadesus, Brendel, Horowtiz, Haskill, just to name a few) recordings out there.