Mozart never sounded more sublime than in his Viennese piano concertos. Hear them from a pianist who unlocks the composer’s secrets like no other.
In 1785, the sometimes tortured Mozart at last found some stability. He moved into a large apartment in Vienna, established a new concert series at the Mehlgrube Theatre and composed one of his most optimistic and exuberant piano concertos: No.21.
The concerto is bright and resplendent yet tinged with darkness. Swedish director Bo Widerberg noticed that quality when he used the work’s serene slow movement for his movie Elvira Madigan, linking the music’s shadowy undercurrents with the idealist nonchalance of his doomed lovers.
Before embarking on Mozart in display mode, Mitsuko Uchida plays the Concerto No.18, written a year before No.21. Here, Mozart is altogether more moody, writing a set of slow variations in his ‘tragic’ key of G minor and filling the music with unsettling accents, syncopations and about-turns.
Nobody plays Mozart’s concertos like Mitsuko Uchida, whose recordings of these scores, directed from the keyboard, have brought joy to thousands.
‘Every phrase is elegantly tooled, every texture perfectly weighted,’ wrote The Guardian of the project.
In between, the musicians of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra offer something totally different – the raw and unschooled passions of the Czech composer Leoš Janácek.
In Mládí, written as he approached his 70th birthday, the composer set out to celebrate the experience of youth. The buoyant, spirited work captures all the vividness of peasant life and all the unrequited passions of its composer.
Janácek wanted his distinctive musical rhythms to match those of Czech speech. The result is music that sounds like nothing else, seeped in vivid originality and striking colours.
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