Geza Anda - Mozart Piano Concertos - Musicweb International
20 July 2012Musicweb International
What Linn have achieved with this and other DG, Decca and Philips recordings that Dan Morgan and I have reviewed is little short of miraculous. So far we've both listened to the 24-bit versions but I accidentally ‘purchased' the 16-bit version of this Anda
recording - never do anything complex last thing at night when you're tired - but even in this form the quality is excellent, with only a hint of inevitable tape hiss when heard on headphones to indicate that this is not a newly minted recording.
Brendel and Angerer take a slightly faster view of the first movement than Anda - 11:45 as against 12:23 - though it's hardly noticeable in practice. As for differences in interpretation, you could sum it up crudely by saying that Brendel is more involved with the music, Anda more in control of it, without sounding in any way unemotional. There's little difference of tempo in the slow movement and finale. If I had to choose just one version for my desert island, I'd be happy with either, though if the island had a good sound system, it would have to be the Anda.
In K467 my benchmark is Stephen Kovacevich with the LSO and Colin Davis, currently unavailable on CD but obtainable as a
download, coupled with No.25, K503, from hmvdigital.com. If pushed to a single choice, I'd probably opt for Kovacevich, but with
considerable regret. In one important respect Anda scores over the opposition in this and all his Mozart recordings with the Camerata for the lightness of his touch, which some characterise - wrongly in my view - as slight coolness.
Kovacevich and Davis are just a shade faster in the first movement but, though that's the version which I most often listen to, I didn't think Anda at all slow. Kovacevich gives a little more weight to the famous slow movement, but here again the differences are minimal - and the Anda recording is, after all, the version that's ingrained in the minds of us old fogies who actually remember the film. The fact that we're pre-programmed to regard this version as ideal doesn't prevent it from being just that - ideal. There's very
little in it in the finale.
The Clifford Curzon Decca recordings to which I referred earlier don't include a version of K467, but he did record it live in 1980 with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and Armin Jordan for Claves (DO1021) and it's available for download for just £1.26 or less from emusic.com or £1.99 from hmvdigital.com. The orchestra play almost as well as the Camerata and the LSO and the mp3 download is very good of its kind - it's billed as a DDD recording - though not quite a match for Linn's refurbished DG sound. Curzon
always had important things to say about the repertoire that he performed and here he makes a slightly slower tempo throughout sound just right. At 8:19 he's more considered than Anda (7:15) or Kovacevich (7:43) without sounding slow and the brief but enthusiastic applause at the end is well deserved.
Curzon is even more considered in the slow movement (8:29) in another live recording, this time with Rafael Kubelík and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1970 (Audite 95.453, with Concerto No.24, K491 - download from classicsonline.com
for £4.99 or stream from Naxos Music Library) but still persuasive. The Audite recording is perfectly acceptable, a little rougher than the Claves and noticeably more so than the Linn DG transcription, but it does give us Curzon in good form playing a concerto which he didn't record in the studio, at an affordable price.
I've really enjoyed listening to four versions of K467 in one afternoon - no listener fatigue. I wouldn't wish to be without Anda,
Kovacevich or Curzon but Anda's is the only recording available in lossless sound - both 16- and 24-bit at that. Linn's mp3 costs only pence more than the Kovacevich and the 16- and 24-bit versions won't break the bank, at £10 and £18 respectively, so my final choice has to go with Linn, DG and Anda.
Related LinksCamerata Academica des Mozarteums SalzburgGéza AndaMozart: Piano Concertos Nos.6, 17 & 21