It won't be long before I need to buy another disc of this; I have played it so often. Moravec is such a fabulous Mozartian; such a wondrously gifted player..."was" one should say as he he is now no longer with us and will be sorely missed. No 14 has one of the most infectiously tuneful finales in any concerto and it comes after a strong first and lovely second movement. No need to mention the other concertos here; they are simply amongst the best played Mozart concertos on disc. You may want to own several other pianists' performances but none will be wholly better than these. Moravec's touch was legendary; here's why. If a pianist can be said to imbue his playing with wisdom then here is a fine example; one senses a lifetime of experience. He makes Mozart glow with warmth. Enjoy!
The Czechs will always hold a special pride of place in all matters Mozart: the good citizens of Prague were one of the few people to acknowledge the Messiah of Music during his lifetime. Me, I have never understood why a cash-strapped Mozart did not return to Prague in 1789 rather than undertake the fruitless trip to Berlin which bankrupted him further. It was to be.
I should have guessed that my Mozart-buddy Kirk List (on Amazon US) would beat me to this disc. I concur with his judgement. The sheer musicality of this disc from soloist and Czech orchestras alike is phenomenal. This is my first encounter with the artistry of Ivan Moravec: what a sonorous tone he has. Every phrase sings. His cadenzas fall short of Edwin Fischer's might creations but only just. If Uncle Karl Bohm heard some of the tempos here he would reach for his heart-tablets: too bad for him. I love the fleetness of foot in the outer movements.
I have never heard K 503 sound so light on its feet. This performance is the antonym of marmoreal.
The one smallest of reservations applies to K 488. Mozart composed K 449 in such a fashion that its orchestral accompaniment could be reduced to a string quartet. This is not the case with the A Major concerto which demands a larger ensemble with clarinets to the forefront. As recorded, the strings of the Czech Chamber Orchestra are on the thin side and warrant augmentation. Even so, it is still so damned musical.
The analogue recording from the 1970s is more acceptable than stellar. Make do with it.
For those King Sauls among us, this disc is a talisman to avert darkness. Gun stuff.
Ivan Moravec's performance of the A major Concerto with the Prague Chamber Orchestra is distinguished by a wonderfully soulful and sublime Adagio. Yes, it is slow by modern standards, and the clarinets have that typical Czech vibrato that one does not expect automatically in Mozart, but these things really only add to the emotional impact of the music. This Adagio is of course not your average slow movement (F sharp minor is a very rare key in music from the classic period); and here, it sounds absolutely heart-breaking. This is simply sublime. The Adagio is surrounded by two nicely lively Allegro's (again with some individual clarinet sonorities). The Concerto is preceded by a good performance of No. 14 (not otherwise in Moravec' discography) and followed by No. 25 which is accompanied by the Czech Philharmonic and presented on an altogether grander scale. This is easily the most attractive Mozart Concerto disc in Moravec' discography (the other two comprise Nos. 20, 23, 24 and 25 with Neville Mariner on Hänssler; they are quite good but rather less special), and to my ears a 'must' for the A Major piece. The recorded sound of the mid-70s is wholly acceptable.