MOZART: Great Piano Concertos Vol. III

by | Feb 22, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Great Piano Concertos Vol. III

Program: Piano Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, K. 238; Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459; Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
Performers: Christian Zacharias, piano (K. 238)/ Radio-Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart/ Gianluigi Gelmetti/ Radu Lupu, piano (K. 459)/ German Chamber Philharmonic/ David Zinman/ Ivan Klansky, piano (K. 466)/ Prague Virtuosi/ Jiri Belohlavek/
Studio: EuroArts DVD 2010238 (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: 4:3 Color
Audio: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: ****

EuroArts has preserved three delightful concerto performances which prove particularly and aptly infectious for this Mozart Anniversary. Each of the programs is directed by Janos Darvas.  Christian Zacharias and conductor Gelmetti collaborate (22 May 1989) for the delicious, youthful K. 238, shot at the Schwetzingen Palace.  Zacharias plays the piece with poetic elegance, the phrases often hearkening to the J.C. Bach models which had inspired young Mozart, but who in this concerto was leaving imitation far behind. Some crystalline sonority from Zacharias in the lovely Andante un poco Adagio. The camera is mostly down and left of Zacharias, but we occasionally pan to a benign smile or nod from Gelmetti, who slightly resembles the late actor Sebastian Cabot. Horns and strings resound forcefully in the Rondeau, and they look great too in burnished browns and silvers. Minimal gestures from Gelmetti go a long way to produce a frothy accompaniment. Lovely oboe color to urge the piano’s runs to the cadenza. The entire concerto is so light, so graciously chiseled, it ends too soon.

Enter Radu Lupu and David Zinman for Mozart’s brilliant F Major Concerto (1784), with its many wind and horn allusions to the hunt. Nice camera and flute work, then cut to the baton-less Zinman’s leading of the strings in their tripping figures to the piano entry. The intense Roumanian Lupu, whom I recently described as “the Rasputin of the piano,” is in silken form, often himself savoring the interplay of the keyboard with flute, oboes, and bassoons.  Taped 12 July 1990 at the Sophiensaal, Munich, the acoustic ambiance seems absolutely right for Mozart, the orchestral definition clean and crisp. Lupu propels the martial musical line forward without force, the filigree‚s achieving that music-box sonority Mozart relishes. Zinman’s gestures are all rounded, soft circles. The camera makes some cuts to the bowed viols and basses, then back and forth from piano to strings in sonorous antiphons. Pull back for the big ritornello prior to the cadenza. The woodwinds laugh to bring the first movement to a suave close.

Translucent textures rule in the Allegretto, the phrases lovingly molded by Zinman. The camera dwells on Lupu’s rapt facial expression. He nods to Zinman for the flute and bassoon entry. Flute and piano take us to aerial realms where only God and Mozart commune. Lupu begins the Allegro assai with no preliminaries, the flippant figures moving ardently to their contrapuntal form with quicksilver intensity. Mozart’s multifaceted lines proceed to the second subject, a jaunty figure whose piano runs bespeak a free spirit in music, relishing his liquid, compositional and digital facility. Piano and flute move us to the polyphony, then the piano interrupts the strict sensibility with light flurries in Lupu’s right hand. The lightest trill and then the love affair with the flute and oboe, over the martial rhythm a la Papageno, takes us to the luxurious last three chords.

I heard pianist Ivan Klansky in Atlanta around 1980 in Beethoven’s Third Concerto, a specialty. He encored with the last movement of Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata. Here, Klansky performs at the Rittersaal of Palais Waldstein in Prague, 20 November 1990. From the outset of his entry, Klansky generates a palpably nervous tension in Mozart’s stormy Allegro, with its momentary flashes of light. Klansky seems to be conducting himself at the keyboard, his face and shoulders twitching and jerking to the crisp articulation between the hands‚ dynamic shifts. Yet, the performance has an implosive intimacy, and the camera abets this impression with extreme close-ups, side and through the piano’s interior, of Klansky’s concentration. The recapitulation cuts to the cello section, then to Klansky against the strings, then to Belohlavek’s own intensity at the tuttis. Cut to the oboe and bassoon for the secondary theme, then we linger on Klansky’s repetitions of the quick filigree as he crescendos. Watching Klansky’s face in the cadenza offers a challenge: he’s prettier to listen to, projecting a beautiful tone. Great ensemble entry for the coda, a nice cut to the strings and tympani.

The Romance, whose opening strains mark the credits for the DVD, basks in a static serenity, the woodwinds and strings singing sweetly. The middle section is brisk sturm und drang, no kidding around. Nice side shots of Klansky’s crossing of the hands; then the clouds abate, and we return to the high ether of innocence. Pull back for a long shot of the ensemble for the Rondo, cut to the basses and strings and on to Klansky’s answer to and extension of the main theme. A pair of light hands adumbrates the shift to D Major, the flute leading the winds in the tonic resolution of the tragedy. Klansky adds a brief cadenza to reintroduce the rondo theme. Strong left hand punctuation of the marcato-staccato theme, the heat from the stage lights applying a sweaty veneer over all participants. Klansky might be Klaus Kinsky (in Woyzeck) if looks have anything to do with selling a video of a classical concert, but he plays passionately and elegantly. Cut to the winds for the bubbling motif that precedes one more burst of emotional turbulence, then we sail into the trumpet-marked coda, the piano and orchestra bobbing in wondrous Mozart magic.

–Gary Lemco

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