Mitsuko Uchida is one of the few classical artists that continues to outdo herself every time she makes a new record. I have heard her previous recordings of these concertos with Jeffrey Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra. I own the Jandos set on Naxos, Malcolm Bilson playing the pianoforte under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner with the English Baroque Soloists, and Barenboim performing with Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra. I also have recently purchased a few of the John O'Conor - Mackerras collaborations on Telarc. As good as all of those versions are, the only thing I've heard recently that can even come close to this new recording (2nd in what I hope turns out to be a complete new Mozart Piano Concerto cycle) is Leon Fleisher's recording of 7, 12, and 23 with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.
Uchida takes a deeply lyrical approach to these pieces, and for the life of me, every time I listen to her play a Mozart, Beethoven, or Schubert sonata, or her Debussy etudes, it just takes my breath away...how anyone can make a piano sing, sparkle, and dance like an angel. Uchida has the strongest ability to convey melody, and ability to convey that in the purest, most lyrical sense of anyone I've heard. The balance between the piano and the orchestra, partly fantastic engineering and partly inspired conducting, yields the sweetest renditions of these concertos on record. Another thing I enjoy about these recordings is the left brain, right brain approach she takes with the performances. There's something here, as beautiful as these performances are, that sharply appeals to your intellect. The Cleveland Orchestra has never sounded better. Many recordings of works from the classical period tend to drown in reverb and echo, lose detail, so all you ever hear are the strings. Not here. The woodwinds and horns come through clear in the mix.
I need to live with these a while to say whether or not her performance at the piano is better. I would sound stupid saying her first version was perfect, and this is most perfect. But if you can improve on perfection with sound engineering, maturity, and inspiration - this would be what is sounded like. Buy this. Highly recommended. If I could give it 100 stars, I would and without hesitation. Like a fine wine, some things get better with age. And this is a knock out. I can hear them polishing off a another Grammy.
If you're still in doubt, listen to the previews. Just have your credit card out and ready.