Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"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.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Stylish, spirited, sparkling Mozart

Mozart Piano Concertos, v. 2: K. 449 & K. 459, plus Divertimenti K. 136 & K. 138

The second volume in the new Chandos Mozart Piano Concertos series from Manchester, with Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, is pretty much what we've come to expect from this combination of superb musicians: stylish, spirited, sparkling Mozart with a real feeling of freshness. Mozart spoke a fair amount in his letters of playing music with taste, but I'm afraid some musicians take that to mean a safe, middle-of-the-road approach that drains the life out of this mercurial music. The last thing one would say about Bavouzet and Takacs-Nagy's Mozart is that it is careful;  they take full advantage of the range of musical opportunities Mozart offers the performer, plus some the composer wouldn't have dreamt of, all on the positive side, I hasten to add. These two concertos come at a time when Mozart made a true leap from the delightfully prodigious master of the International Style of the time to a period where his emerging genius began to build rapidly towards the greatness of The Marriage of Figaro and the instrumental works which surround it. This was his Rubber Soul and Revolver period, to speak in the language of The Beatles. It's a time of surprises.

I can never listen to the Divertimentos Mozart wrote in Salzburg in 1772 without a smile on my face. This isn't profound music, but it's well-made and designed to do just that: make people feel good. The middle work, K. 137, was included in the first volume of the Chandos series; K. 136 and 138 are added here as fairly substantial bonuses. Takacs-Nagy and the Manchester Camerata absolutely nail this music; it's just like With the Beatles!

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