Mozart Pi­ano Con­cer­tos Tas­ma­nian Sym­phony Orches­tra, Aus­tralian Cham­ber Orches­tra ABC Classics ★★★★✩

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Mark Cough­lan

TH­ESE four al­bums of Mozart pi­ano con­cer­tos fea­ture English pian­ists Imo­gen Cooper and Howard Shel­ley and Aus­tralian Si­mon Tedeschi with the Tas­ma­nian Sym­phony Orches­tra and the Aus­tralian Cham­ber Orches­tra. With one con­certo per al­bum, about 30 min­utes of mu­sic, the record­ings date from 2000 to 2010 and make a fas­ci­nat­ing com­par­i­son of stylis­tic ap­proaches. Shel­ley’s per­for­mances with the TSO of KV456 and 503 set the bench­mark for el­e­gance and ex­cite­ment. Con­duct­ing from the pi­ano, he shows an affin­ity for the style; his fluid tem­pos and nat­u­rally un­fold­ing phras­ing shape the mu­sic with ex­pres­sive ease. Shel­ley’s touch is crys­talline yet beau­ti­fully mod­u­lated to cap­ture the chang­ing char­ac­ter of each theme. The TSO re­sponds with sen­si­tiv­ity, cre­at­ing mem­o­rable, delightful per­for­mances. Also with the TSO but un­der the di­rec­tion of Alexan­der Briger, Tedeschi’s per­for­mance of the A ma­jor con­certo KV488 seems less com­fort­able stylis­ti­cally. The first two move­ments are solid and a lit­tle square, lack­ing the sparkle and in­ten­sity of Shel­ley’s record­ings. Tedeschi al­lows him­self more freedom in the caden­zas and fi­nale, play­ing with greater colour and imag­i­na­tion. Cooper’s per­for­mance of the last con­certo, KV595, with the ACO, is beau­ti­fully con­trolled, her mel­low tone and legato touch cre­at­ing a ro­man­tic ap­proach. How­ever, the over­all per­for­mance is fairly se­date; her char­ac­ter­i­sa­tions are less vivid than Shel­ley’s and her straight-ahead ap­proach in the fi­nale drags a lit­tle. The ACO cre­ates won­der­ful mo­ments of dra­matic in­ten­sity but at other times plods along.

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