Francesco Piemontesi, SCO & Andrew Manze - Mozart: Piano Concertos 19 & 27 - American Record Guide
These two concertos, K 459 and 595, are joined by a Rondo in A, K 386, thought by some to be a first version or perhaps an alternate finale of Concerto 12 in A, K 414. (The writer of the liner notes, by the way, was misinformed as to what pieces were on the disc. He writes about another Rondo—in D, K 382—which was an alternate movement for Concerto 5, K 175.) I’ve come across several very fine recordings of Mozart concertos in recent months with pianists like Anne-Marie McDermott, Ben Kim, and Charles Richard-Hamelin. Now we have another from Francesco Piemontesi, who has worked with Alfred Brendel, Murray Perahia, and Cecile Ousset; since 2012 he has served as Artistic Director of the Settimane Musicali di Ascona. Piemontesi’s Mozart strikes me as articulate and crisp with a minimum of pedal and a sense of space around every note. (This is in contrast to the suave, lyrical, graceful school of Mozart performance.) The result is bracing and uplifting. The most exuberant movement here, the finale to Concerto 19, is very similar in tempo and style to the Pollini (a 1980 recording with Böhm, in the conductor’s last Salzburg concert with the VPO). Do not assume, though, that the other movements are mechanical or unfeeling. This is wonderful, interesting playing. Piemontesi is aided by the alert, sturdy accompaniment of the Scottish orchestra under Andrew Manze. The liner notes list a good-sized orchestra (strings: 8, 6, 4, 4. 2), but it’s hard to be sure all are used because the orchestral list includes their four horns, three trombones, and percussion! At any rate the orchestra has enough weight to give substance to Mozart’s orchestral writing. This recording follows one, also by Piemontesi, of Concertos 25 and 26 (Linn 624), which somehow escaped review. With good fortune, then, we may hear more Mozart from Piemontesi and Manze.