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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How it was played
Very nice to have Malcolm Bilsons' pioneering fortepiano recordings still available. The instrument Mozart wrote for of course didn't have the lush resonance of a modern grand, and to our ears it can sound somewhat wooden and lacking in dynamics. After all, the fortepiano was intended to fill a small chamber in those days, not an expansive concert hall. This recording...
Published on 30 Dec. 2011 by Davis Byars

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Average then, more so now, sample out of curiosity only and probably the early concertos if at all
Undoubtedly pioneering - was it the first complete cycle on period instruments?
Authentic - Bilson's fortepiano is a direct copy of Mozart's own instrument in his Birth House Museum in Salzburg
Early digital lends some transparency to the sound especially the soloist
There is a measured approach to the music which sort of averages it out to produce steady...
Published 7 months ago by david


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How it was played, 30 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Mozart: Piano Concertos (DG Collectors Edition) (Audio CD)
Very nice to have Malcolm Bilsons' pioneering fortepiano recordings still available. The instrument Mozart wrote for of course didn't have the lush resonance of a modern grand, and to our ears it can sound somewhat wooden and lacking in dynamics. After all, the fortepiano was intended to fill a small chamber in those days, not an expansive concert hall. This recording manages to capture just how it sounded to audiences of the period. Bilsons' playing could sound rather subdued and scholastic to modern ears on first listening, but on repeated hearing, the featherlight sensitivity of his reading will surely come through. Unfortunately the recording dynamics are rather too favorable to the orchestra, diminishing the piano sound somewhat. But this recording will turn out to be invaluable to any Mozart lover, and not just for academic reasons. By all means have the expansive interpretation of Brendel and the bravura of Radu Lupu, but you could find room for this delicate intensive reading as well. And, I hope, get to love it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really excellent, 13 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Mozart: Piano Concertos (DG Collectors Edition) (Audio CD)
I don't always like everything Gardiner does, and I don't generally prefer recordings of classical period music on the fortepiano over modern instruments. Yet seeing that there is a very self-indulgent review thats been posted earlier unjustly depressing the ratings in this case, I'll add something short and appreciative.
I have far too many complete sets of the Mozart piano concertos, as well as a number of one off discs or parts of sets. I very often gravitate back to this set because of the balances between the orchestral instruments and the keyboard and between different sections of the orchestra. I also like the period sonorities and Bilson's fortepiano sounds very well indeed.
I wouldn't just recommend this for the balances and period sonority, however - these are really great performaces of the Mozart concerti, crisp and clean without being at all raw or scratchy, moving in the right way and expertly played as you would expect, and far less annoying than some of the more moody accounts by star players on the modern piano pitted against a more mushy orchestral sound. Bilson is not only a scholar but a fantastic artist and player. If I had to grab one set of the concerti in the proverbial house fire, I think it would be this one (Schiff and Perahia are my other preferred series but neither has the sense of keyboard *and* orchestra that you get here, just lovely).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating music making, 1 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Mozart: Piano Concertos (DG Collectors Edition) (Audio CD)
As a complete set I find this makes compulsive listening and I find it endlessly fascinating to hear these very highly imaginative readings, set against classic more "orthodox" , certainly more modern, more traditional performances. I find a place for both in my collection and I have all of these Bilson discs in their separate CDs collected over the years. It started with curiosity but ended up with admiration for what is a very musical achievement. This is not a dull academic set of performances as I might initially have feared. These performance have much to say and make their claims in performances of beautiful musicianship. Highly recommended for the special insights they bring to the Mozart discography.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars on authentic instruments, must have + MURAHIA piano versions, 18 May 2012
This review is from: Mozart: Piano Concertos (DG Collectors Edition) (Audio CD)
MOZART COMPOSED THESE CONCERTOS WITH THIS INSTRUMENT (HAMMERKLAVIER-FORTEPIANO), SO WE HAVE TO LISTEN THE CONCERTOS WITH T H I S INSTRUMENT ... AND IF WE WANT TO HEAR "MODERN" VERSIONS, THEN FOR EXAMPLE TAKE MURAHIA'S ...

(AND SORRY FOR MY ENGLISH, I'M CATALAN AND I TRY TO DO MY BEST)

XAVIER J. B.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Average then, more so now, sample out of curiosity only and probably the early concertos if at all, 27 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Mozart: Piano Concertos (DG Collectors Edition) (Audio CD)
Undoubtedly pioneering - was it the first complete cycle on period instruments?
Authentic - Bilson's fortepiano is a direct copy of Mozart's own instrument in his Birth House Museum in Salzburg
Early digital lends some transparency to the sound especially the soloist
There is a measured approach to the music which sort of averages it out to produce steady dignified unhurried performances

But the reservations just kept piling up again for me on recent re-acquaintance after many years when I first sampled these discs on their first release - they were never really raved over.

If you are at all acquainted with classic accounts by pianists with wonderful touch and commanding line such as Anda or Badura Skoda (himself no mean period instrument player) or Perahia or Barenboim, just to name a few, then Bilson's instrument where no touch is possible will quickly wear thin.
And then there is Bilson's playing which is polite and reserved, the very English gentleman, which of course is what he came across to me when I met him, but which fails to ignite and flame in those heart stoppingly beautiful passages in the quiet movements, or sparkle and fizz in the outer movements, especially the rondos and finales and display card but thoughtful cadenzas....in effect, a lot is missing, despite the gains mentioned in other reviews that take a more favourable view.

You see I don't want an antidote to the best versions on great sounding modern instruments which are readily available at low prices - when the last note dies away and the concerto ends, I want to shout:

"MORE PLEASE MAESTRO!"

But with Bilson (he has made better recordings than this) and the sluggish Gardiner in these unexciting recordings, I just want to turn the player off and head to bed with a mug of cocoa and the TV remote. But at least that's better than either Brendel or Uchida where a bottle of something rather more lethal than the cocoa might end up in my hand.

Maestros they ain't
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5 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars technically well played but lacking something, 16 Jan. 2009
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rc_rc (Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mozart: Piano Concertos (DG Collectors Edition) (Audio CD)
Gardiner's conducting has a marmite-tendency. Despite many admiring it, many others, like myself, just don't like it at all.

All the notes a played, perfectly, in the right order, according to the manual you might say, but it sounds soulless. For 'straight' readings try Engel and Hager's recording, which just sounds more musical and persuasive, and then there's perahia, barenboim, levin, brendel, goode and many others, that are just as technically good but a whole lot more involving.

Feel free to check others' opinions on this, there are those that love this set, but in my opinion it will end up gathering dust on your shelf, as it just doesn't emotionally engage.
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2 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Ghost Ship on the High Seas, 18 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Mozart: Piano Concertos (DG Collectors Edition) (Audio CD)
" . . . . . and I would like to say to the Board of Enquiry that this ghastly episode brings to mind the Mary Celeste, the brigantine merchant shop that was found adrift in the middle of the Atlantic. To this day, she remains the archetypal ghost ship."

"You had better explain yourself here!" the First Lord of the Admiralty thundered.

"Your Honour, the Mary Celeste was discovered in late 1872, unmanned and apparently abandoned (one of the lifeboats was missing). Adding to the mystery, the weather was clement and her crew had been experienced and able seamen. As found, the vessel was seaworthy and under sail with the winds pushing her towards the Strait of Gibraltar. There was plenty of food and water on board. Her cargo - a shipload of pure alcohol - was untouched. The personal possessions and valuables of the passengers and crew were still in place. Not one of them was ever seen or heard from again. Their fate has generated much speculation. Theories range from `alcoholic fumes, to underwater earthquakes, to waterspouts, to paranormal explanations involving extraterrestrial life, unidentified flying objects (UFOs), sea monsters, and the phenomenon of the Bermuda Triangle', although the Mary Celeste had kept her distance from that ill-fated region. The episode has been cited as the greatest maritime mystery of all time - until today."

I sipped away at my water. My lawyer surreptitiously kicked me under the table. After a moment's pause, I continued.

"Sir, we came across the SS Bilson-Gardiner after a long search. She was still seaworthy - there was not a drop of water in her hold. We boarded at K 456 in B Flat. Lanterns in hand, we then moved on to K 466 and K 467, which received a rosette from the Penguin Guide. It was getting dark by the time we reached K 271. The other concertos followed later. We knew that the Coronation Concerto was in the cargo-hold but we left it for another day. At first glance, everything seemed in order. The scale was admirable. The playing was expert enough. Scholarly research illuminated proceedings. The sound engineers had served the cause admirably."

I gulped. The moment was at hand.

"But much like the passengers on the Mary Celeste, there was no sign of Mozart anywhere. As we surveyed the vessel, all we encountered was dry academism. It was a ghost ship."

The Bench erupted in fury. The First Lord of the Admiralty used his gavel like Thor's Hammer to restore order. It was duly forthcoming.

"And you stand by this testimony?"

"I do, Sir. We recently undertook a similar exercise with the SS Sofronitsky Complete Forte Piano Concertos - and Mozart was lounging on the deck - and getting rather sunburnt, I hasten to add."

The judges conferred in a huddle. Two minutes later, their judgement was at hand.

"The Accused is duly discharged, and we award costs against Deutsche Grammophon for wasting everyone's time and their effrontery in general. Case dismissed."
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Mozart: Piano Concertos (DG Collectors Edition)
Mozart: Piano Concertos (DG Collectors Edition) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Audio CD - 2010)
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