MOZART: Rondo in D Major, K. 382; Rondo in A Major, K. 386; Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466 – Sergei Kvitko, piano/ Madrid Soloists Chamber Orchestra/ Tigran Shiganyan – Blue Griffin BGR 597 (11/5/21) 57:00 [Distr. by Albany] *****:
Pianist Sergei Kvitko realized this recording (1-2 August 2021) despite the COVID pandemic; and, if the elan and spontaneous interplay of solo and orchestra mean anything beyond the notes, the affirmation of life resounds as the “moral of the story.”
The festivities open with Mozart two Rondosof 1782, long staples of such Mozart dignitaries Edwin and Annie Fischer. Kvitko has made his own reconstructions of these bright and inventive works, adding embellishments and orchestral tissue to the missing ending of K. 386. Much in the playful Mozart spirit, Kvitko does not take repeats verbatim but finds the means to attach colors and harmonies appropriate to the dazzle the composer intended. The K. 382, a theme and variations, offers many opportunities for bravura luster and poignant expressivity, and Kvitko delivers a refreshed, beautifully etched performance that does not substitute erudition for musicality. The various emendations to the original flow seamlessly, and the orchestral response invests vigor and authority to the grandness of the scheme, embodied in brief by Kvitko’s sterling cadenza and the orchestra’s sleek coda.
The K. 386 projects a more delicate affect, almost tragic in its galant gestures. Kvitko, feeling the restored manuscript of 1980 lacked appropriate synchronicity, redid the orchestral ornaments to his taste. The gentle theme, with its Alberti bass and procession in orchestral accompaniment, soon blends into a romantic meditation that quite prefigures the lyric simplicity in Schubert’s best moments. At the same time, Mozart’s capacity for surprises leaps out in passing dissonances and abrupt shifts of harmonic color. Here, too, Kvitko proffers a cadenza whose effects in double notes and brisk runs anticipates the improvisations we detect in Beethoven. The transition to the tutti, seamless, plays as simplicity itself, a perfect sense of closure.
The 1785 D Minor Concerto never ceases to compel our attentive fascination, given its affective kinship with Don Giovanni and its mixture of emotional turbulence and ecstatic grace. In the midst of the anguished syncopes that open the demonic Allegro, we hear the flute of Aniela Frey offering possible consolation. The Madrid Soloists Chamber Orchestra bass line no less contributes to the storm and stress of music’s pained splendor. In his liner note commmentary, Kvitko recalls his love for the secondary theme in F Major. Kvitko plays with a refined clarity, his staccatos resonant, and his singing line blends with the strings, winds, and basses most effectively, particularly when the otherwise bright F Major theme recurs in the punishing D Minor mode. Whether the bassoon parts – Borja Ocana and Paula Jimenez – provide pleasure or pain must be arbitrated by one’s sense of tragedy. Kvitko supplies his own cadenzas to the outer movements, even anticipating the theme of the Romanze in movement one. His trill makes an excellent rival to that of Rudolf Serkin. Somewhat out of the blue appears a pertinent passage from the D Minor Fantasia. A series of false cadences lead to the explosive coda in which conductor Shiganyan’s firm grip feels resolute.
The slow movement Romanze opens the gates of Heaven after the mortal storm of movement one, the line in all parts eminently vocal. The serenity of the B-flat outer sections of this semi-rondo format, naturally, suffers a dramatic intrusion into G Minor, a tempestuous prestothat has Kvitko’s scurrying to both ends of the keyboard. The sun disperses the angry clouds, with rising figures in the woodwinds, and the returned melody could have assured Robert Browning that “God’s in His heaven.” The last movement, Rondo: Allegro assai has Kvitko’s announcing the passionate, dissonant return to sound and fury, with Kvitko in hurtling figures exchanged with winds, strings, and timpani. The intensity quite matches my own, classic version with Gieseking and Rosbaud, and the sound here is superior to the old EMI document. The sudden appearance of D Major from the tumult seems inexplicable, except that Mozart demands a happy ending to the various forms of menace that have passed. The woodwinds and Kvitko literally bubble their way to his bravura, third-movement cadenza, which manages to pull in motifs from movement one, if cyclicism is your forte. A huge pedal point takes us to the coda, where the bassoons, fellow winds, strings and ensemble offer what Alfred Einstein termed “enchanting sweetness,” just the sentiment Kvitko and participants intended all along.