Classical CD Reviews

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491; Rondo in A Major, K. 386; Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503; Appendix to Piano Concerto No. 24: Cadenza to Movement One (Hummel) – Valerie Tryon, piano/London Symphony Orchestra/Robert Trory – APR

These two familiar Mozart concertos benefit from the meticulous applications of pianist Valerie Tryon.

Published on February 8, 2010

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491; Rondo in A Major, K. 386; Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503; Appendix to Piano Concerto No. 24: Cadenza to Movement One (Hummel) – Valerie Tryon, piano/London Symphony Orchestra/Robert Trory – APR

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491; Rondo in A Major, K. 386; Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503; Appendix to Piano Concerto No. 24: Cadenza to Movement One (Hummel) – Valerie Tryon, piano/London Symphony Orchestra/Robert Trory – APR 5640, 76:13 [Distr. By Harmonia mundi] ****:


Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, London, 18-18 2009, these two familiar Mozart concertos benefit from the meticulous applications of pianist Valerie Tryon, who for the C Minor Concerto debuts the first movement cadenza by Leopold Godowsky, noted for contrapuntal predilections and the use of modern harmony to complement the styles of earlier masters.

The 1786 C Minor Concerto takes its dark color as a prelude to much of Cosi fan tutte, especially in Mozart’s use of flute, oboe, clarinets and bassoons, often set as a kind of somber serenade against the runs and bravura filigree of the keyboard.  The parlando style of the piano part seems to assuage the often angular or even discordant punctuations of the orchestra‘s storms in ¾ time, alleviated by excursions in to E-flat Major. Some scholars attribute the opening motif to Haydn’s Symphony No. 78 in the same key. Godowsky’s cadenza keeps the four-beat pulse but modulates into foreign keys and syncopated harmonies that assume a romantic luster in the form of an arpeggiated fantasia. For the more conservatively minded auditor, Ms. Tryon attaches the traditional Hummel cadenza, which anyone can pre-program into his CD player.

The E-flat Major Larghetto presages much of Schubert’s naïve simplicity, perhaps anticipating several moments from The Magic Flute. The LSO’s transparent wind-serenade texture appears twice, first in C Minor. Tryon’s pearly legato assuages some of the darkness, while a second interlude for clarinets in A-flat takes us once more to the deft psychology of Cosi fan tutte. Conductor Trory applies restrained weight to the C Minor variations that conclude this most lugubrious of Mozart piano concertos. Tryon, too, manages a soft patina for her part, especially when we consider the fury of the chromatic line, the keyboard often against syncopated strings, tympani, and gruff bassoons. The fourth variant in A-flat has the woodwinds in more gentle guise, and the sixth in C Major–the oboe and flute in lovely harmony–takes us to brighter but unfulfilled possibilities. Trory then speeds up the harmonic rhythm of the piece, and the sense of tragedy becomes inexorable, the coda’s offering no galant solace.

The independent Rondo in A Major (1783) used to provide a charming vehicle for pianists Clara Haskil and Edwin Fischer. Bearing many points of resemblance with Mozart’s Concerto in A Major, K. 414, the piece exerts a consistent charm and deftness of expression. The beautifully balanced phrases and marvelous woodwind transparency have been restored in a now seamless edition brought out by Alan Tyson (1980) and amended by Sir Charles Mackerras.

The epic Piano Concerto in C Major, K. 503 (1786) stands along the Jupiter Symphony and C Major Quintet, K. 515 as a monument to Mozart’s control of his chosen forms. Often centered on the key of G, the opening movement likes three repeated eighths as a motto, shifting from major to minor with a fluency to make any musician–especially Beethoven, who seized its rhythmic motto for his own–envious of the fertility of Mozart’s imagination. Each of the four major affects enters into the argument, the piano part expressive and sweet before participating in the grandeur of the upbeat chords. Tryon applies a bright patina to the proceedings, while woodwinds chirp, and strings run in Mannheim figures along the C and G Major scales. Despite the textural intricacy of the writing, conductor Trory manages to keep the martial flow transparent and woodwind line fluid. That the interwoven dialogue between the solo part and the members of the orchestra reaches a quadruple eight-part  canon becomes a merely academic point in the midst of so much integrated harmony. Tryon’s music box sonority embraces Mozart’s filigree and proceeds to the Hummel cadenza with devoted authority.


The intimate F Major Andante might well serve as an opera aria or song without words. Another one of Mozart’s lovely wind serenades complements the keyboard filigree; and while in sonata-form, the movement lacks any development section. Instead, oboe and bassoon, along with the flute, steal the unruffled show. The last movement exploits a gavotte Mozart had employed in Idomeneo’s ballet music in 1780, now subject to shifts in major and minor tonality as well as those massive pedal points that mark much of the first movement. Tryon suavely captures the music’s alternately breezy and liquid nature, moving to the middle section in A Minor that opens with three crashing chords. Tryon then melts us with some F Major dialogue with the oboe, one of those moments when Mozart becomes an unapologetic Romantic.

–Gary Lemco




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