Piano concertos of Mozart and Bartók may seem to be unlikely companions on a disc. For most artists, this would probably be true. In the hands of Hungarian-born pianist Géza Anda, however, these two highly contrasting styles are juxtaposed quite successfully on this BBC Legends album. What ties them together is Anda's innate ability to truly turn the piano into a singing instrument, a trait immediately noticed by Wilhelm Furtwängler and that helped launch Anda's robust career. Although his star has somewhat faded, Anda was an absolute sensation during the height of his career. His repertoire, while favoring the high Romantic concertos of Brahms and Schumann, also frequently included the complete Mozart concertos and all three of Bartók's concertos. This CD features Concertos No. 16 and No. 17 of Mozart, as well as the second Bartók concerto, each examples of impassioned enthusiasm at the piano. Anda leads the English Chamber Orchestra from the piano in performances marked by delightful lyricism, playfulness, and a sense of true union and dialogue between soloist and orchestra. Bartók's magnificently demanding Second Concerto is accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Pierre Boulez. The same elegance and technical refinement heard in the Mozart is again present in the Bartók; it also adds stunning displays of power, sophistication of voicing, and lyricism throughout. Listeners not familiar with Anda's captivating playing would do well to start their collection with this album.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Piano Concerto No. 16 in D major, K. 451|
|Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K. 453|
|Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, Sz. 95, BB 101|