MOZART: Piano Concertos No. 10 in E-flat (two pianos); No. 14 in E-flat; No. 23 in A – Carlo Grante, Barbara Panzarella, piano/ Orchestra dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecelia, Rome/ Bernhard Sieberer, conductor – Music & Arts 1222, 79:44 ***1/2 [Distr. by Albany]:
It is perhaps not well known that Leopold Godowski wrote a number of cadenzas for the Mozart Piano Concertos. On this release we are given two concertos with the genuine article, while No. 14 is given with a pseudo-Godowski twist written by pianist Grante. Let’s get the raison d’etre for this release out of the way first; these cadenzas, while interesting, are not suited for Mozart, and though their intrinsic value as music rests upon our ability to enjoy quasi-Hollywood musical fantasias, and as such provide a modicum of enjoyment, if not amusement, they unfortunately spoil the soup. What Godowski does with them simply proves incongruous with the Mozart idiom.
And that is a shame, for these are very fine readings done with panache and a sweetly singing piano tone that has few rivals. On top of it all, the Orchestra dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecelia, Rome, possibly the best orchestra in Italy, plays with a stunning warmth and adeptness at phrasing and dynamic variance that surely would ordinarily place these readings near the top of the list. As is, despite some formidable two-piano expertise with Grante’s young seventeen-year-old partner Barbara Panzarella in Mozart’s finest two-piano concerto, and a superbly realized A-major concerto, I cannot recommend this generally as one is stuck with always dealing with the Godowsky cadenzas, and that gets old fast. Also, No. 14 is given in its strings-only guise (Mozart allowed for the woodwinds to be optional), and I do not think that the concerto sounds as full and natural without them.
Nice concept, flawed material, excellent performances, superb sound.
— Steven Ritter