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Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 23 & 25

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: Nikolaus & Rudolf Buchbinder Harnoncourt
  • Audio CD (14 Jan. 2013)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Classical
  • ASIN: B009F91YT8
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,121 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K 503 / I. Allegro maestoso
  2. Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K 503 / II. Andante
  3. Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K 503 / III. (Allegretto)
  4. Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K 488 / I. Allegro
  5. Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K 488 / II. Adagio
  6. Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K 488 / III. Allegro assai

Product Description

One Austrian critic referred to the "magical sound mixtures" when the Vienna Concentus Musicus under its renowned conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt (b. 1929) met up to record two Mozart piano concertos with acclaimed Austrian pianist, Rudolf Buchbinder (b. 1946). Harnoncourt approaches this repertoire for the first time in the more than 60 years he has worked together with this orchestra which he originally founded, with a copy of an Anton Walter fortepiano as the featured solo instrument. Buchbinder, whose live recording of all 32 Beethoven sonatas for Sony Music garnered enthusiastic praise from the international music critics, is one of the most prominent interpreters of the German piano repertoire from Haydn to Brahms.
What we have here are fresh and playful readings of two works from Mozart’s ‘Figaro’ year of 1786: the highly melodic A major concerto K. 488 and the long and resplendent C major work K. 503.
"This was an exciting change from the norm", says Rudolf Buchbinder, "and it became more and more enjoyable with every note. It was nearly ten years since I'd played on a historic instrument like this, but I sat down at the keyboard and felt at home again straight away”.

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
The Concentus Musicus, with its original instruments, sounds suitably rustic here, with the open sounds of the winds being being particularly characterful. The thing to like (or maybe not like, depending on your taste) about original instruments is the lack of homogeneity in the orchestral sound. The texture sounds rougher because you get a sense of the individual timbre of the instruments instead of a smooth mix. I like it, so I liked this disc. Also, Harnoncourt's tempi are nice -- the allegro maestoso of K.503 sounds just right, and the adagio of K.488 is very appealing. According to the booklet notes, Harnoncourt and Buchbinder were especially careful to get the balance of soloist to orchestra right in the Musikverein, and that balance is reflected on the recording (which was taken from live performances). Buchbinder is a very fine pianist, of course, and here he and Harnoncourt are on the same page. The adagio of the K.488 especially is magical, especially considering how quickly the fortepiano sound decays. His phrasing is eloquent there, and wonderfully lively in the finales. Compared to Van Immerseel's recording of the Fifth and Ninth concertos on Channel Classics, Buchbinder's instrument sounds a bit sweeter in the upper register, where it also has a harp-like quality, while the lower register is percussive, and the middle has an attractive twang -- so even the solo instrument isn't homogenized! A fine recording -- I'm glad to have it.
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Format: Audio CD
There comes a point in life where one has the right to say, "Bugger it - do I have to pretend that I semi-like the latest serving of muesli from Harnoncourt?" Where is the return-on-investment for having to endure so much lumpiness? To this day, I don't know anyone could listen to his misshapen Brahms cycle with the Berlin Phil or most of his Bruckner and not expect retribution, not least in way of dementia. Consider his performances of the Marriage of Figaro: they could be likened to the Paris-to-Dakar rally. With as much magnanimity as I can muster, the Justin Bieber Singing Toothbrush (it features Baby and U Smile) offers more sustenance than his Cosi fan Tutte. All things considered, this is judgement.

Here, with the Concentus Musicus Wien sounding ever so underpowered and scabrous (the orchestral mishaps in the prelude of K 503/1 are frightful - just frightful), this live concert is hard yakka all the way. Rudolf Buchbinder plays a fortepiano that could double as a toy-piano; in the Land of the Giants - Edwin Fischer, Horowitz, Uchida (in K 488) and Zacharias - he is competent, not memorable. At no point did I sense that the team here is inside the music: this is a glorified run-through of no great mastery or insight - to wit, the lack of climactic epicentres, (evidenced by the non-event at 4'52"ff of K 488's Adagio).

This is devoid of grace in every sense of that word. Man does not live on muesli alone. What of you?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8b6a4e7c) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a8972c4) out of 5 stars Old friends collaborating on Mozart piano concerti, including a surprising first recording for the ensemble and conductor 15 Mar. 2013
By G.C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Rudolf Buchbinder and Nikolaus Harnoncourt are old friends who have worked together in concerts and recordings, and it's no surprise that they've performed Mozart piano concerti together. What is a surprise is that this recording marks the very first recording of Mozart piano concerti that Harnoncourt and his Concentus Musicus Wien have ever recorded, and also evidently the very first times that they have ever performed Mozart piano concerti with any keyboard artist, in the ensemble's nearly 60 years of existence. So even though there are plenty of recordings of Mozart piano concerti around, this fact alone makes this recording worth a listen. Both concerto recordings are edited from live performances at the Musikverein, Vienna, from June 2012, with audience applause edited out, presumably from patch sessions.

Those familiar with Harnoncourt's approach may recognize the rather "in your face" manner of the instrumental textures that he draws from the Concentus Musicus Wien, where the rather forward recording balance enhances the impact of the sound on the listener. Harnoncourt definitely avoids the "Dresden china" approach to Mozart in that sense. Yet those ensemble sonorities may well be the main concession to period practice, because the overall pulse and tempi that he and Buchbinder adopt would not be out of place with Alfred Brendel or Murray Perahia. Performing on fortepiano, Buchbinder is very much first among equals when he takes center stage, but works just as very much with Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus as a true partner, not at all like a 'star' soloist. His manner is very self-effacing and always in service of the music.

Perhaps not a Mozart recording to listen to every day, but for admirers of Buchbinder, Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus Wien, this is worth checking out, on its own terms, besides the historic aspect of this recording in the Concentus Musicus Wien's discography. In fact, it's amusing to read the anecdote in the liner notes, where Buchbinder remembers Harnoncourt telling him, with a punchline from Alice Harnoncourt:

"'You know, Rudi, it's very funny! It occurs to me that I've never played a single Mozart keyboard concerto with the Concentus. You have to do it!' And his wife Alice then came over and took a scrap of paper out of her pocket: 'Yes, and these are the dates, Rudi.'"
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a897324) out of 5 stars a very attractive disc 27 Jun. 2013
By Stanley Crowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Concentus Musicus, with its original instruments, sounds suitably rustic here, with the open sounds of the winds being being particularly characterful. The thing to like (or maybe not like, depending on your taste) about original instruments is the lack of homogeneity in the orchestral sound. The texture sounds rougher because you get a sense of the individual timbre of the instruments instead of a smooth mix. I like it, so I liked this disc. Also, Harnoncourt's tempi are nice -- the allegro maestoso of K.503 sounds just right, and the adagio of K.488 is very appealing. According to the booklet notes, Harnoncourt and Buchbinder were especially careful to get the balance of soloist to orchestra right in the Musikverein, and that balance is reflected on the recording (which was taken from live performances). Buchbinder is a very fine pianist, of course, and here he and Harnoncourt are on the same page. The adagio of the K.488 especially is magical, especially considering how quickly the fortepiano sound decays. His phrasing is eloquent there, and wonderfully lively in the finales. Compared to Van Immerseel's recording of the Fifth and Ninth concertos on Channel Classics, Buchbinder's instrument sounds a bit sweeter in the upper register, where it also has a harp-like quality, while the lower register is percussive, and the middle has an attractive twang -- so even the solo instrument isn't homogenized! A fine recording -- I'm glad to have it.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8aea4d20) out of 5 stars Eighteenth Century Mozart 29 April 2013
By charles Novo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As good a performance as 18th century instruments will give. No one like Mozart. Trty it out.

C J N
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b3358e8) out of 5 stars Even Maximilian Bircher-Benner says "Enough is Enough!" 21 Aug. 2014
By Bernard Michael O'Hanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There comes a point in life where one has the right to say, "Bugger it - do I have to pretend that I semi-like the latest serving of muesli from Harnoncourt?" Where is the return-on-investment for having to endure so much lumpiness? To this day, I don't know anyone could listen to his misshapen Brahms cycle with the Berlin Phil or most of his Bruckner and not expect retribution, not least in way of dementia. Consider his performances of the Marriage of Figaro: they could be likened to the Paris-to-Dakar rally. With as much magnanimity as I can muster, the Justin Bieber Singing Toothbrush (it features Baby and U Smile) offers more sustenance than his Cosi fan Tutte. All things considered, this is judgement.

Here, with the Concentus Musicus Wien sounding ever so underpowered and scabrous (the orchestral mishaps in the prelude of K 503/1 are frightful - just frightful), this live concert is hard yakka all the way. Rudolf Buchbinder plays a fortepiano that could double as a toy-piano; in the Land of the Giants - Edwin Fischer, Horowitz, Uchida (in K 488) and Zacharias - he is competent, not memorable. At no point did I sense that the team here is inside the music: this is a glorified run-through of no great mastery or insight - to wit, the lack of climactic epicentres, (evidenced by the non-event at 4'52"ff of K 488's Adagio).

This is devoid of grace in every sense of that word. Man does not live on muesli alone. What of you?
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