BBC Music Magazine
Complete Keyboard Works Clare Hammond (piano); Swedish Chamber Orchestra/ Nicholas Mcgegan
BIS BIS-2393 (hybrid CD/SACD) 76:38 mins
The Czech Mysliveek was between 1765 and 1780 one of the most successful opera composers in Italy – clearly a touchstone stylistically and personally for the young Mozart. These two concertos and two sets of solos comprise all his extant music for the keyboard. Unfortunately, the First Concerto, after a jauntily operatic opening, does not really deliver on its initial promise. The slow movement is elegantly poised and the finale offers a certain amount of folk-inflected melody, but as a whole the lack of development is disappointing. The Second Concerto has more substance with a wide-ranging first movement and a gem of a Larghetto whose minor-key expressiveness has clear parallels with Mozart.
The first set of solo pieces is expert and, like many 18th-century collections, unmemorable. The second, misleadingly described as ‘Six Easy Lessons’, is a quite different proposition. The pianistic demands are considerable and there are some movements of real originality, notably the Minuetto of the third ‘Lesson’ with its soulful minor-key Trio and the cumulatively brilliant variations of the final ‘Lesson’. Clare Hammond takes this repertoire seriously and with a strong sense of ornamental nuance. In the concertos, Nicholas Mcgegan and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra accompany with verve. The boomy ambience of the recorded sound, though, is at the expense of orchestral detail. Jan Smaczny
PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★