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Mozart's Piano Concerto 23 in A

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In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2012 22:22:05 BDT
Piso Mojado says:
Henry is being Jamesian. He nominated that Mozart's ninth piano concerto as Mozart's first masterwork. I agreed and suggested including the violin concertos, yes, thinking especially the third, for its "dream andante", one of three Mozart wrote .. others are in the 8th and 21st concertos. Hutcheson coined the term). can't argue between or among masterpieces: they either are or they aren't.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2012 16:04:25 BDT
Henry James says:
Piso perceptively perfects our perspective on the Mozart concertos. However, in acknowledging that K 271 is a masterpiece, he implies that others (perhaps the 3rd?) are not? I am not sure we should be making such distinctions. Surely all compositions are just as good as any other, aren't they?

Posted on 20 Oct 2012 06:26:45 BDT
Mandryka says:
Very nice to see you back Henry James.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2012 05:36:42 BDT
Piso Mojado says:
I certainly agree that Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9, K. 271, is among his best, with several unusual and one unique feature, and with the violin concertos (especially the third) is among Mozart's earliest masterpieces. One thinks long and hard after its C-minor slow-movement (from Myra Hess/Casals and Lili Kraus on forward).

No. 25 also deserves a place, trumpets and drums, Maestoso primo, and for the three-note theme in the Rondo. Who get it right are the Philharmonia, Josef Krips and Edwin Fischer, with his own marvelous first-movement cadenza. His live, self-conducted version from Salzburg with the VPO is a little fuzzy sounding.

I have a soft spot also for No. 26 in D, the "Coronation", despite its signs of haste and incompleteness. There's no left-hand written for the piano at all in the Andante, for instance, but Mozart was in a hurry and played it himself in Frankfurt-am-Main. Wanda Landowska's recording with Walter Goehr for the Coronation Year introduced it to collectors.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2012 04:11:13 BDT
Henry James says:
Mandryka, in one of his many valuable posts, sez...
"I like most of the concertos from 12 to 24 in fact. And I very much like 27."
There may be a virtue in stipulating that virtually every concerto from 12-27 is of exceptional quality (and that 9 is probably his first masterpiece).

Posted on 25 Sep 2012 16:13:47 BDT
Mandryka says:
It turned out that there are two PC9s by him. I have heard both now, and one of them is very good. But the best thing about researching this Richter is that one of the CDs came with a Haydn concerto. It's a wonderful performance, a gem.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2012 19:29:33 BDT
Piso Mojado says:
Mandryka, re your Sept. 6 post about Richter's playing Mozart's Concerto No. 9. I don't have it, and have never heard it, but took the listing from his own "Notebooks" listing the Mozart concertos that he has played. Lili Kraus, whom I saw play it live with Ingolf Dahl at an Ojai Festival; and Myra Hess with Casals conducting are awfully good.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2012 16:57:42 BDT
Bella says:
Harry; I was recently listening to Annie Fischer's 21 on an LP, with great enjoyment, but tragedy is not a word that come to mind. Cool, perhaps. I am very familiar with Zacharias in live performances as he is a regular visitor to one of our local festivals, and, like you, have not been all that impressed, indeed at times he can sound pretty routine. On the other hand some years ago he won a lot of friends at the Edinburgh Festival in the Mozart concertos with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. I gather that nowadays he undertakes quite a range of activities, maybe these don't help the focus.

Posted on 11 Sep 2012 20:57:06 BDT
I'd certainly sooner listen to Annie Fischer than to Zacharias, who I do tend to find a little superficial generally, but I can't agree that she makes no.21 tragic or even close to it. Much of Mozart's music has momentary shadows pass across it, and maybe she brings those out more than most in this concerto, but I certainly don't think she turns it into a tragic piece overall.

I don't generally enjoy cadenzas which are out of style with the rest of the music around them because, to my mind, that unbalances the music and draws too much attention to the cadenzas themselves. I mind such things less in a one-off live performance, when they can be entertaining, but I very definitely would not want to live with a recording which featured such a cadenza.

But vive la difference!

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2012 20:45:25 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Sep 2012 20:56:35 BDT
Mandryka says:
Maybe what I'm really saying is that I've never really found a 23 which speaks to me particularly loudly.

Do you think the atmosphere is in the music or the performance? It's quite a contrast between Fischer/Sawallich and Zacharias/Lausanne in 21 for example. One tragic, the other sunny. Which is the more interesting interpretation -- for me there's no contest and for me Zacharias's relentless sunniness trivialises it.

The point about anachronistic cadenzas is interesting and one I've thought about. Why should the cadenza have to be in the style of the music? I like Schnabel's cadenza to 24 for example, and I think it fits the music well in a way. Obviously not in terms of formal style but in terms of feeling -- Schnabel plays 24 sternly and tragically. His cadenza is like that. Just about the only anachonistic cadenzas I can't abide are Edwin Fischer's.

I like most of the concertos from 12 to 24 in fact. And I very much like 27. Or rather. I should say I've found performances which I like of most of them. It's just that I think some are topper-quality than others.

I generally like Mozart played very seriously in all genres I think -- I like the slightly tense Petersen Quartet for example, and I like old fashioned pianists like Arrau and Richter and Gilels. I've just started to explore Leon McCawley's Mozart and I find what I'm hearing very interesting.

Posted on 11 Sep 2012 20:27:42 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Sep 2012 20:28:19 BDT
Interesting post - respect what you say, but disagree almost completely. To my ears the Busoni cadenza is overblown and anachronistic; nowhere *near* all Mozart's best work is dark and serious; and - with the exception of 26 - all his concertos from at least 17 onwards (some would say earlier) are top quality. Your tastes may well incline you to those pieces of his which have a dark and serious atmosphere, and that's fine, but it's quite a jump from that to an actual value judgment. I dislike almost all Mahler's music but I wouldn't presume to dispute its quality on any kind of objective grounds.

Posted on 11 Sep 2012 20:17:51 BDT
Mandryka says:
I've not really been thinking about 23 much recently but I have been thinking a lot about 21. The more I listen to Annie Fischer/Sawallich in 21 the more impressed I am and especially by the cadenza she plays, which is by Busoni.

I'm coming to an opinion about Mozart -- that really a lot if not all, of his best work is dark and turbulent and serious. I like the Annie Fischer PC21 because it's dark and serious, as is Gilels's recording. I'm not sure PC 23 bears that sort of reading. I'm not sure it's one of Mozart's greater concertos.

Posted on 11 Sep 2012 20:08:56 BDT
Agree for the most part, though there are exceptions ( my mind Richard Goode's cadenza in the finale of the D minor concerto is top notch and certainly stands repeated listening).

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2012 19:56:42 BDT
JayJayDee says:
I love hearing a soloist-inspired cadenza (especially if it's a Kennedy improvisation) at a concert. But it palls on re-hearing. It may sound conservative to suggest it, but the 'traditional' cadenzas go down best for repeated listening. It's useful if the various alternatives can be separately programmed so that you can choose (say) Tracks 1,2,3,4 or Tracks 1,7,3,4 when setting up your listening session!

Posted on 11 Sep 2012 16:22:51 BDT
I think pianists are reluctant to write their own cadenzas when one has been provided by Mozart. The documentation with Brendel's recording (with Marriner) has no information at all so I assume he plays Mozart. In the same series of recordings Brendel plays his own cadenza in Nos 22 & 25. Likewise, Barenboim provides several of his own cadenzas but not for No 23.

Posted on 11 Sep 2012 15:44:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Sep 2012 15:58:13 BDT
Piso Mojado says:
In his bok "Great Pianists of our Time", Munich critic and pianoholic Joachim Kaiser makes the point that Kempff plays the slow movement of Mozart's 23rd as an Adagio, as it stands in the score, but that Rubinstein plays it as an Andante. However, Kempff at the slower Adagio tempo takes 39 seconds for the 12 measures of the melody, while Rubinstein at requires 49 seconds. He doesn't explain this explain this, and I don't understand it. Perhaps because it's a low 6/8, and Rubinstein plays it in two?

Kaiser mentions the unusual F-sharp minor key, but not that the movement is a Siciliano. It sounds like the introduction to an operatic aria similar to "Una furtiva lagrima" in Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'amore", which resembles it. I see a tenor waiting to walk on annd sing his plaintive aria.

Mozart's 23rd concerto is rich in good recordings ... Anda, Gulda, Buchbinder, darllin' Lili Kraus, Brenboim, and Uchida among the integrales; Carlo Grante, Fazil Say, Pletnev, Annie Fischer, Robert Levin on fortepiano, Clara Haskil, Rubinstein, Michelangeli, Horowitz, Kempff, and Pires among the singulars. I could be happy with almost any of these, but over years have remained loyal to Rubinstein most of all. I haven't heard Brendel's.

I do find the cadenza Mozart wrote for the first movement short of his best, and now shopworn through use and over-familiarity. It's a relief to hear Robert Levin improvise his own, or Carlo Grante play the rare cadenza by Leopold Godowsky, or Horowitz play Busoni's that David Dubal found for him. A few others have the imagination to essay different ones that I'm always interested to hear.

Kaiser mentions one pianist I don't know, Richrd Hoffmann; I found a Liszt cassette by him that discouraged further search. He also has a charming note, saying he is simply in love with the piano and its music, and inviting his readers to send him suggestions. We could give him an earful.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2012 10:59:03 BDT
Paul B says:
That's interesting. I can see where you're coming from with the comparison now. Solti's Haydn is rather 'driven' and charmless, rather like much of Fey's.
There is a really good disc of Fey conducting various overtures culled from live performances. It's worth seeking out. It has some terrific Salieri, Mozart and Rossini, and some rather uninspired Beethoven and Brahms.
I like Fey's earlier Haydn symphonies. No.31 The Hornsignal is one of the best, in my view, but when it comes to the later symphonies, then 'perverse' is the only word to describe much of it. If you don't care for his 88, then stay well clear of 96, which is awful.
As for Solti, its a bit diasappointing to see that there is no bargain symphony box amongst the new box set releases from Decca to celebrate his centenary.

Posted on 11 Sep 2012 10:17:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Sep 2012 10:19:04 BDT
Mandryka says:
Just that's Fey can be a bit brash and hard and braying sometimes, in Haydn 88 for example. He always reminds me of the sort of Solti I don't like -- Verdi's Falstaff and The Wanderer Fantasy come to mind. Probably I'm not being fair to either -- I quite like Solti's Ring and Mahler 8 and Elektra and probably some others. I haven't found any Fey records which I've really liked, but I keep trying with him. Next time I listen to the Haydn I'll probably find myself loving it.

I've been dipping into Fey's Haydn and Mozart concertos with Zitterbart recently , I've tried the Haydn disc and the disc with the Mozart 9. But to me they aren't very special.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2012 09:43:20 BDT
Paul B says:
Mandryka. That's interesting. Care to elaborate? To me, Fey is occasionally exhilerating and frequently highly annoying. I don't think I'd say the same about Solti.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2012 06:31:55 BDT
John Ruggeri says:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano concerto No. 23 in A major KV 488 - Allegro assai
Ivan Moravec (piano), Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conductor - sir Neville Marriner

Mozart - Piano concerto No. 23 in A major KV 488 - I) Allegro

Morzart - Piano concerto No. 23 in A major KV 488 - II) Adagio

Mozart - Piano concerto No. 23 in A major KV 488 - III) Allegro assai

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Sep 2012 22:05:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Sep 2012 06:12:05 BDT
John Ruggeri says:
Another complete performance. PC # 23 starts @ 28:07
Rubinstein - Wallenstein Mozart 21 & 23.wmv

Posted on 10 Sep 2012 21:59:40 BDT
Mandryka says:
Fey reminds me of Solti.

Posted on 10 Sep 2012 20:59:52 BDT
Paul B says:
Jacobs recording of No. 92, the 'Oxford' is spoiled by a rather too damned fast last movement. Shame. Yes there are quite a few very good 92s. Dorati's is marvellous. There's also a pretty ghastly one by Thomas Fey!

Posted on 10 Sep 2012 20:51:47 BDT
JayJayDee says:
Is there a 'best ever' K488?

Or is it:-
a) capable of so many alternative interpretations as being impossible to pin down, or
b) never capable of being poorly delivered.

I was lucky to 'learn and live' the piece in the late sixties with Kempff and other more recent performances seem only to shine minor spotlights upon areas that were already given a perfect 'exposure'.
But I freely admit I was at *that* impressionable age.

Posted on 10 Sep 2012 20:42:42 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Sep 2012 20:45:18 BDT
Mandryka says:
Comic. Jacobs plays the first movement of the Jupiter like it's a scene from a slapstick pantomime.

Haydn is less twee than Mozart in fact. At least if he's played right -- avoid all older recordings.
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Initial post:  26 Sep 2011
Latest post:  20 Oct 2012

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