Didier Castell-Jacomin / Vienna Chamber Symphony Quintet

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 8 and 23; Die Zauberflöte

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Prior to the advent of recordings, if you wanted to hear a Mozart ensemble work and you weren't a noble family with the authority to whip up a performance, you performed it yourself, at home, in arrangements like the ones heard on this album. Any number of testimonies from the 19th and the early 20th centuries testify to how common these arrangements were, but they are not often heard on recordings. The versions of Mozart's concertos by Ignaz Lachner, which have the virtue of beefing up the usual string quartet with a double bass, were made around 1880 and were common enough that he did 12 of them. The one of the Piano Concerto No. 8 in C major, K. 246, has never been recorded before, so this album may well draw library buyers and Mozart completists. The concerto is also one that works fairly well in such an arrangement, and indeed must often have been played this way in Mozart's time; the wind parts are, if not incidental, not thoroughgoing. In the Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488, you do of course miss the autumnal wash of the winds in the orchestral exposition and their wonderful interaction with the soloists. Pianist Didier Castell-Jacomin makes the questionable decision to compensate for the lost expression by introducing tempo rubato here, and his slow movement is unusually slow. The Vienna Chamber Symphony Quintet offers clean accompaniment, and the medium-sized Theater aan het Vrijthof provides a reasonable sound environment.

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