Francesco Piemontesi, SCO & Andrew Manze - Mozart: Piano Concertos 25 & 26 - Gramophone

Piemontesi's debut Linn (and Mozart concerto) recording. Instead he's chosen a coupling that's a touch more rarefied: the trumpet-and-drum-laden K503 and its successor, the oft-denigrated Coronation. This is a young pianist (b1983) who has already amply displayed his Mozartian credentials - on a disc of sonatas and shorter solo works (Naïve, 7/14) and on 'Mozart 225', the 200-CD complete Mozart edition from Decca (10/16), for which he was charged with new recordings of some rarities and discoveries. Here again, his sympathy with the style and ethos of the Salzburger's music simply sings from the speakers.

There is intimacy rather than inwardness to these chamber-scale performances; Piemontesi knows he's the star but is sensitive enough to realise that he shares a firmament with the orchestral soloists, despite being ever so slightly spotlit in the miking. The militaristic opening movement of K503 can become something of a bangfest but the Swiss pianist instinctively draws back before overpowering the music, adding cheeky touches of ornamentation here and there as if it were all too easy for him.

He places the somewhat neglected Coronation first on the disc and communicates urgently that this is far from the 'poor relation' among Mozart's late piano concertos that it is often puzzlingly assumed to be. It's one of Mozart's most melodically generous and harmonically exploratory concertos (even by his standards), and Piemontesi clearly enjoys the flashes of Bachian imitative writing between the hands. It's a favourite, too, of Maria João Pires, whose live 1990 VPO performance with Abbado is a characteristic miracle of understatement; Piemontesi doesn't feel the need to be so self-effacing, and why should he? This is still young man's music - the composer was a similar age to Piemontesi when he wrote it - and more Mozart from these quarters is eagerly awaited. 

01 September 2017