Daniel Barenboim / Rafael Kubelik

Mozart: Klavierkonzerte Nr. 22 & 23

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Daniel Barenboim looks indeterminate in age in the cover photo of this release and nothing else tells the buyer that these are historical performances, recorded in 1970 and never before release. One of them, the Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488, is live; the other is an analog studio recording. Nothing in the booklet (in German, English, and French) explains how these recordings happened to languish in the vaults for four decades and then resurface. Yet none of this affects the product, which is very fine. No audiophile should be dissuaded by the age of these recordings, which can stand with modern digital releases. And Barenboim shows the kind of spirit that put him on the map. He imposes himself on quite energetic (and, from the modern point of view, oversized) orchestral work by the Bavarian Radio Symphony under Rafael Kubelik, seizing control of the dialogue and standing up to whatever the orchestra can throw at him. His fast movement entrances are wiry and sharply defined. In the second subject areas he relaxes into a languid lyricism, and then he pushes the emphasis toward the recapitulations in a way that few Mozart pianists manage. His slow movements are almost Romantic, and the finales offer a grand climax to the whole after again starting briskly but noncommittally. In short, Barenboim creates whole narratives that operate independently of the orchestra while still coordinating closely with it. A very nice find for Barenboim fans.

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