Alicia de Larrocha / Georg Solti

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 24-27

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This double-CD budget set brings together two performances by Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha, collaborating both times with Georg Solti as conductor. Each disc includes a pair of Mozart piano concertos. The music on the first CD, recorded in 1985, has never been released, because, the booklet asserts, post-production work was needed to clean up the acoustics. The second CD includes a 1977 performance featuring the London Philharmonic; it apparently received only a domestic release. The booklet (in English only) offers a nice appreciation of de Larrocha as a Mozart pianist, a field in which she excelled. Few, however, would call Solti a Mozart specialist, and the concertos are certainly a mixed bag. Fans of de Larrocha will discover her agile mind at work everywhere here; she has a remarkable sensitivity to the different ways Mozart treats the entrance of the piano, and she gets the listener's attention every time at this point. Her just slightly flexible tempos are attuned to the long line, and her marvelous sense of control is everywhere in evidence. Generally speaking, where de Larrocha is calling the shots (such as in all the slow movements), these performances succeed. Elsewhere they're less consistent. Even operating with the small Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Solti overwhelms the scope of the music in the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491. On the second disc, the finale of the Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, K. 595, is not terribly graceful. The spacious Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503, on the second disc is the most successful of the large sonata-form movements, but there are lovely effects from de Larrocha throughout, and for her admirers this will be a welcome collection addition.

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