Classical Reissue Reviews
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major; Piano Concerto No. 10 in E-flat Major for 2 Pianos; Sonata in D Major for 2 Pianos – Alfred Brendel & Walter Klein, pianos/ Vienna State Opera Orch./ Paul Angerer – Regis
Published on October 2, 2012
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453; Piano Concerto No. 10 in E-flat Major for 2 Pianos, K. 365; Sonata in D Major for 2 Pianos, K. 448 – Alfred Brendel & Walter Klein, pianos/ Vienna State Opera Orch./ Paul Angerer – Regis RRC1388, 76:31 [Distr. by Qualiton] ****:
The Mozart G Major Piano Concerto of 1784 had been unknown to me until anundergraduate class in piano literature with the late Jean Casadesus, who made our study of this brilliant showpiece for the composer’s Vienna audience mandatory. Legend has it that Mozart taught his pet starling to sing the first five measures of the finale, the bird’s consistently erring on one note. The performance restored here, originally recorded by Vox in 1960, features Austrian virtuoso Alfred Brendel (b. 1931) assisted by another Austrian musician, Paul Angerer (b. 1927). The absolutely bubbling quality of the VSOO woodwinds – especially the bassoon – complements the acrobatics in the keyboard part, and together they explore the magical clarity of Mozart’s cornucopia of melodic ideas that extend into various tonalities in the development section.
The second movement Andante of this concerto had been a revelation of expressivity at my first hearing, and so it remains. Both the chromaticism of the melodic line – almostindicative of the Masonic Funeral Music, K .477 – and the pregnant pauses in its evolution yield a spellbinding, dramatic tapestry. Brendel and Angerer collaborate in anintimate but determined vision, directed through the many changes of key, register, andtexture to a preordained goal of almost Baroque affect. The 1960 acoustic, somewhat harsh, manages to accentuate Mozart’s sforazati in their sudden paroxysm of emotion. The structure of finale, marked Allegretto – Presto, combines rondo and variation procedures, the melody itself a kind of bouree in the French mode. Jean Casadesus loved to play this movement in class, pointing out the moments of Mozart wit, not the least of which derive from his canny orchestration and harmonic modulations. The hunting-horn motif that sets the stage for the coda points to the banter between Papageno and Papagena, pure opera buffa.
Austrian pianist Walter Klein (1928-1991) joins Brendel for the two collaborations from 1961, beginning with the 1779 Concerto in E-flat for 2 Pianos, which Mozart originallymeant to perform with his sister Nannerl. The equality of the part writing and the absolute crystalline precision of the two soli makes it impossible to know who plays the Primo or the Secundo. Often, the interlaced writing achieves a music-box definition, a true moment of period Viennese charm. Operatic gestures define the Andante as well, and the vocal quality of the soli assumes added ornamental refinement and delicate expressivity. The lovely phasing at the movement’s coda, a delicately modal scale, warrants the price of admission. The spirit of an Austrian dance marks the Rondo: Allegro, with Angerer’s setting the tempo for a vivacious romp the countryside.
Written for pianist Josepha Barbara Auernhammer, as had been the Concerto No. 10, the D Major Sonata exploits turbulent chordal and octave writing, knotty textures, and brilliant runs, so that we must credit the lady Auernhammer with an imposing technical arsenal. Brendel and Klein bring the same elegant vivacious clarity to the stunningfiligree as they do to the Concerto. The Andante comes to the fore as Mozart’s contribution to the “emotional” school derived from C.P.E. Bach, the music-box intimacy of the realization most striking. The delicate sonorities, the trills and turns, seem to create crystal chandeliers in the very air, arias that well could have graced Idomeneo. TheRondo finale takes us back to the Seraglio or the K. 331 Sonata in A for equally Easternromps in 2/4. Brendel and Klein thoroughly engage us in their ministrations of the relentless tempo and finally, the four-octave coda that concludes this grand and eminently charmed work.