Mozart: Piano Concertos 17 & 24

Benjamin Hochman / English Chamber Orchestra

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Mozart: Piano Concertos 17 & 24 Review

by James Manheim

There's certainly no shortage of recordings of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K. 453, and Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491, which are two of the most popular piano concertos in the repertory. However, the 21st century has seen a certain trend toward experimentation with the Mozart concertos: historical pianos, extra ornamentation, proto-Romantic readings. The field was wide open for Mozart recordings in the classic vein, and that's just what pianist Benjamin Hochman and the venerable English Chamber Orchestra offer here. The fresh wrinkle, although Hochman follows here in the steps of Murray Perahia, is that the pianist conducts from the keyboard. Hochman, a professor at Bard College and a recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, has played these concertos live on various occasions and controls the flow of events with ease. He shapes each movement in such a way as to give himself room for details of phrasing without losing the overall line, and the result is Mozart that is both sharp and elegant. Sample either of the opening movements. Fine traditional Mozart that does not have any kind of a by-the-numbers quality.

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