Éric Le Sage - Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 24 KV 491 & 17 KV 453 - All Music
There is no shortage whatsoever of recordings of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K. 453, and Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491, two of the most popular works in the entire piano concerto repertory. However, many fall into two large categories: traditional readings with a large symphony orchestra, and historical performance versions. This one by pianist Eric Le Sage and the Gävle Symfoniorkester defies easy categorization, however, and that's all to the good. The Gävle orchestra, using traditional instruments, is small (52 players at full strength, perhaps fewer here), and it is wonderfully recorded by the Alpha label in its home hall in Sweden. Its work under guest conductor François Leleux is lively, and the interaction between orchestra and soloist is of the sort that one usually hears when an orchestra is conducted from the keyboard. The most striking feature is Le Sage's playing, which is incredibly detailed, yet seems to have an unending spontaneity. Sample the finales, where Le Sage seems attuned to every detail of Mozart's overflowing invention, and where the orchestra weaves in and out in what feel like unpredictable ways even for those who have heard these concertos a hundred times. Le Sage uses a good deal of pedal, but these aren't really "Romantic" readings; nor are they influenced much by historical-instrument versions despite the modest dimensions. Perhaps this is French Mozart, despite the Swedish orchestra; in the C minor concerto, Le Sage uses a rarely heard cadenza by Fauré, written for Marguerite Hasselhoff in 1902. Whatever the case, it is an exceptionally careful and satisfying Mozart piano concerto recording.