MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 11; Piano Concerto No. 20; Piano Concerto No. 21 – Vassily Primakov, piano /Odense Symphony/ Simon Gaudenz – Bridge

by | Jun 6, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 11 in F Major, K. 413; Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466; Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467 – Vassily Primakov, piano /Odense Symphony Orchestra/ Simon Gaudenz – Bridge 9339, 78:09 [Distr. By Albany] ****:

It was in a form-and-analysis music class at SUNY Binghamton that Professor Alice Mitchell pointed out the debts Mozart’s Haffner Symphony owes C.P.E. Bach, in those wide chromatic swooping leaps in the melodic line and the use of circuitous routes to return to the tonic key. Vassily Primakov and conductor Simon Gaudenz, from the opening of the F Major Concerto (1783)–first introduced to me by Rudolf Serkin–reinvigorate that “backwards look” to Bach while urging Mozart forward in a most decisive manner. The brilliant first movement filigree moves in ¾ starts and stops, then renews itself with running figures and pearly roulades, touched by a sense of archaism. At times, the main motif resembles or anticipates “Se vuol ballare” from Figaro. Curiously, the orchestration remains relatively bare–in the manner of an accompanied bravura sonata–except for the addition of bassoons in the Larghetto. The B-flat Major slow movement relies on standard formulas and an occasional Lydian harmony, but its very simplicity of expression transcends its means. Mozart’s own cadenza receives deferential treatment in Primakov’s lucid reading. The Minuet-Rondo exploits antique harmonies in the course of its galant procession, augmented by an occasional audacious harmony.  A sense of heraldry enters the equation, and Primakov and Gaudenz bring the happy mix to contented closure.
The whirlwind approach to the D Minor Concerto produces a variety of startling colors, to be sure. Energized and passionate, the first movement moves like a dark-clouded hurricane, the progression unswerving to Beethoven’s ripe cadenza. The edgy quality of the Odense strings aids in this acerbically nervous account, agitated and musically compelling. The liquid melos of the Romanze, then, appears as a balm after much spiritual turmoil; but it, too, descends into some painful G Minor depths in the course of its stormy central section. Primakov elicits softly plastic tones from his Hamburg Steinway D, faithfully recorded by engineer Viggo Mangor. Splendid woodwind entries illuminate Mozart’s stunning palette enough to warrant repeats for any audiophile. The last movement–in which a sunny D Major finally reveals itself after any number of Beethoven-like sforzati–features Primakov’s use of a cadenza by virtuoso pianist Christian Zacharias. For the happy alchemy of turbulence and poetry, this performance makes a mark close in spirit to one of my favored readings, from Gieseking and Rosbaud.
Feisty martial airs open the 1785 C Major Concerto, known for its populist application of the F Major Andante movement in Bo Widerberg’s romantic film Elvira Madigan by way of Geza Anda’s recording. Primakov does not dawdle on the concerto’s naturally lyric elements; rather, he maintains its often playful bravura character, delighting in the opening Allegro maestoso’s quicksilver runs that move seamlessly through Mozart’s divided violas until he reaches that lovely melody Mozart had already employed in his third Horn Concerto, K. 447. The sonic fidelity to the orchestra becomes quite vivid in the low strings, flute, and bassoon; then with three notes from Primakov, we enter a melancholy E Minor world rife with tears and seething passions. The recapitulation bubbles with chromatic energy and those upward runs–Mannheim rockets–that delighted audiences in Mozart’s day no less than today. Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950), no mean Mozartean, supplied the cadenzas for this rendition of the first movement, an interlude quite dazzling in its layered stretti, much in the manner of a Godowsky etude.
The lovely Andante--with its famous skip of  7th–appears in delicate guise, given the original-instrument-texture of the opening muted strings and winds in triplets. The sudden move to 4/4 hints at something martial or fateful, but the cavatina retains a purity or love that surpasses understanding. A lovely bassoon riff plays against Primakov’s trill and delicate parlando, the strings anguished in their sudden urgencies. The modulation into A-flat Major, over pizzicato strings and pedal point, remains a mystery of inspired imagination.
The first six notes of the Rondo contain enough motor elements to drive the various motifs of the entire movement, especially given Mozart’s fertile mock-militancy. In Primakov’s rendition, the ideas follow each other so quickly our inner ear seems dazzled in a way to which only ogling can correspond visually. At moments, the piano and orchestra act antiphonally in wickedly provocative colloquy. A heave to the I-6/4 chord that introduces Lipatti’s final cadenza, another of that composer’s concerted efforts in counterpoint, and then a series of rising scales to a most delicious final cadence. A lovely disc, well mounted according to the producers Starobins’ high production values.
— Gary Lemco

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure
Logo Apollo's Fire
Logo Crystal Records Sidebar 300 ms
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01