Slávka Pechocová / Prazák Quartet

Mozart: 3 Piano Concerti

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Mozart's piano concertos were undoubtedly sometimes performed by piano and string quartet, or, as here, by piano and string quintet with double bass. The domestic market was coming into its own in Vienna at the end of the 18th century, and Mozart would have catered to it and recognized a performance like this. Indeed, the subtitle "a quattro" for this kind of arrangement was Mozart's own, even though it might more logically have been "a cinque" or even "a sei." Performances of the concertos in this way certainly help the listener understand Mozart's musical world, even if at some point he/she is making a virtue of what was necessity for Mozart's admirers. There are several versions available, and this one, by a sextet of Czech musicians led by pianist Slávka Pechocová-Vernerová, fills the bill even if it doesn't do much more than than that. Pechocová-Vernerová's playing is a bit mechanical but clean and careful, and in general the balances among the instruments are right; Pechocová-Vernerová is especially apt at blending into the larger ensemble even though the piano is not at all underpowered. The double bass of Pavel Nejtek is a bit loud, but that may be due to the big, close-up sound that seems to be intended to make the ensemble sound larger than it really is. It comes off well enough, but one is likely eventually to ask, "what's the point?"

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