Kristian Bezuidenhout / Petra Müllejans

Mozart: Piano Concertos, K. 453 & 482

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File this one with the experimental Mozart concerto recordings, even with the questionable experiments. South African-born historical-performance specialist Kristian Bezuidenhout uses unusual microphone placement in this recording of two of Mozart's mature and very frequently recorded concertos, and the effect is certainly different enough to justify yet another version. The winds are placed in the foreground, and the piano is surrounded by the strings and closely integrated with them rather than standing out in solitary splendor. The effect, Bezuidenhout says, is to make the concertos into something like, in E.T.A. Hoffmann's words, symphonies with piano obbligato, although the relevance of this statement to Mozart's concertos is certainly debatable. In the slow movements, with their lovely wind writing, it could work. But here Bezuidenhout unleashes his second bit of wildness: he moves in and out of one-instrument-per-part accompaniment, reserving the smaller ensemble for particularly lyric moments. The potentially improvisatory spirit of the piano parts, he suggests, may be applied to the orchestra as well. Needless to say, with this you pass into the realm where the score serves merely as a stimulus to further creative activity, an impression Bezuidenhout confirms with his liberal application of varied repeats. He gets able backing from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under Petra Müllejans, who come up with fresh sonorities in the winds and in the lower string parts. And the piano, not dominating the scene but entering with slight, bell-like tones, makes you notice it by its very absence from the fore. It's an original reading, but is it Mozart? Who knows?

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