Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Robust, theatrical, beautiful Mozart


Back in October 2014 I praised pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and conductor Gabor Takacs-Nagy for their delicate but spicy way with Haydn piano concertos. I obviously liked what I heard, because I compared Bavouzet's playing to Bill Evans, who is my piano god. These musicians were in a really special groove then, and two years later here we are with even greater music, and that special feeling is still going strong. Both of these works from 1784 are perfect jewels. You'd think that a private, intimate feeling would be the goal for music of such beauty, but Mozart is above all social, and there's a robust and often dramatic underlying strength that can't be missed. Mozart talks often about "good taste" in music, but there's a theatrical sweep that would be lost if the musicians play too prettily. No Dresden china here! Bavouzet's bravura playing and his cheeky, jazzy cadenzas are just what's required, and Takacs-Nagy is with him every step of the way. These are exactly what I want in Mozart piano concertos.

There are a couple of bonuses on the disc. Bavouzet plays, with aplomb of course, Mozart's original cadenzas from the first two movements of K. 453, which are familiar, clever and moving. I love Bavouzet's slightly twisted cadenzas, but the more traditional among you can imagine these in their place. And the piano is rolled away to allow the Manchester Camerata to take a solo turn, in the Divertimento K. 137 from 1772. This is lighter and frothier than the more mature concertos, but just as delicious. The new disc drops on October 28, 2016.


I just went to the Manchester Camerata website, and I see that Bavouzet will be playing more Mozart there next spring. Here's what's on the program for the Mozart Madness concert in March 2017:
Mozart   Divertimento in D Major K.136
Mozart   Piano Concerto No.14 in E Flat Major K.449
Mozart   Divertimento in F K.138
Mozart   Piano Concerto No.19 in F Major K.459
I hope at least some of these end up on a Chandos CD next year!

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