Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 9 & 18 – Concerto – Reviews


Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat, K271 “Jeunehomme”; Piano Concerto No. 18 in B flat, K456
Kristian Bezuidenhout (piano); Freiburger Barockorchester
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902332 62:26 min

Mozart’s Piano Concerto in E flat K271 is, as usual, subtitled ‘Jeunehomme’ (so-called ‘Young Man’). This nickname, however, has been proven to be a misinterpretation of “Jenamy” – the surname of the young pianist for whom it was written. Yet this music has a youthful and emotionally open quality, with bubbly outward movements, plenty of soulful heartbreak in the middle, and a few structurally bold moments, such as the soloist’s entry on the opening statement of the first theme. The Concerto in B flat K456 is nonetheless a joy, possessing an irresistible verve and presenting an almost lyrical overall writing for the woodwinds.

Continuing his study of Mozart concertos with his regular collaborators, the Freiburger Barockorchester, Kristian Bezuidenhout, playing a modern copy of Walter’s 1805 fortepiano and conducting the keyboard, offers a wonderfully expressive account. He creates an effortlessly flexible canvas that has room to breathe, while bringing out the often conversational nature of music with warmth, humor and grace. It provides its own suitable cadence for K456, in addition to idiomatic embellishments for the solos.

The pianoforte balances effortlessly with the skillfully handled period instruments. Nevertheless, the tone of the violin is usually very thin, with the result that the highest melodic line often disappears at the same general level as the inner voices of the whole – which, perhaps paradoxically, can sometimes blur the texture rather than clarify it. Still, that’s a relatively small complaint for what is otherwise a recording that can light up the darkest of days.

Jessica Duchen


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