In the 1780s Mozart took the bold step of throwing himself into life as a freelance composer. Rather than relying on aristocratic patronage he set up a series of subscription concerts, for which he hired the hall, had the tickets printed and wrote new works to attract a paying audience.
The main legacy of these concerts for posterity is the remarkable series of piano concertos that he wrote for himself to play, unequalled by any other major composer. For some years it looked as though these might become the province solely of period instrument specialists in recordings, but the standard grand piano now seems to be back in fashion.
This is the second disc that young Italian pianist Francesco Piemontesi has made with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Manze. It pairs the cheerful, intricately woven Piano Concerto No.19, K.459, with the late and more reflective Piano Concerto No.27, K.595, written in the last year of Mozart's life.
It makes just as enjoyable a disc as its predecessor, if not for quite the same reasons. This is more clearly a young man's Mozart, enlivened by a bright eye and a keen, decisive way with the music. It fits that the Scottish Chamber Orchestra's playing is also trim and clear, making the performances all of a piece.
Between them, Piemontesi and Manze propel the Piano Concerto No.19 along at a bubbling, but never forced, pace. The Piano Concerto No.27 is also less introspective than it can be, but Piemontesi is always expressively alert to the clouds that from time to time pass across this music's peaceful, sunlit sky.
‘Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 19 & 27’ is released by Linn
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