Martino Tirimo

Mozart: Piano Concertos, K 466 & 482

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Cypriot-British pianist Martino Tirimo has focused in recital and recording upon the music of Mozart. His recordings seem to make British critics roll over and put their paws in the air, but the rest of us, not blessed with such stiff upper lips, may find them somewhere in between "offering just the music" and "vanilla." Tirimo conducts the Prague Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard, and he draws lightly on the insights of period-instrument performers -- there is some ornamentation of the piano part, and balance between piano and orchestra is scrupulously controlled so as to reveal details in their interaction. Tirimo uses a modern piano, however. The lengthy (and in some cases overlong) cadenzas are unfamiliar and unidentified; perhaps they are Tirimo's own. Those cadenzas stand out because the rest of the music is so low-key, insisting resolutely on an atmosphere of restraint and balance. This goes somewhat against the grain of Mozart performances these days, which favor, if not drama, at least gestures that define large spaces. Sample the unruffled opening of the third movement of the Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, for an idea of what Tirimo is about; he makes no concessions in that big concerto to the work's connections with either the Sturm und Drang movement that preceded Mozart or the Beethovenian drama that the work is generally thought to have helped inspire. All this said, Tirimo's playing is impressively precise and will grow on you if you take it on its own terms; he is something of a miniaturist, working to bring out small details in a muted canvas, and if the gentle British Mozart style appeals to you, you will likely find this an unusually finely wrought example. Although the Regis label has devoted itself mostly to reissues, this is a newly recorded disc. Sound is still a negative, however; the bass is overemphasized, and the timpani thumps along and overwhelms some of the delicate balances that are Tirimo's specialty.

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