Haiou Zhang

Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 12 K414 & No. 13 K415 - Chamber Version

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The young Chinese pianist Haiou Zhang has made his mark mostly with performances of virtuoso repertory like Liszt's Piano Sonata in B minor and Ravel's Miroirs. Here he essays something completely different: arrangements for string quintet and piano of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12, K. 414, and Piano Concerto No. 13, K. 415. The booklet is rather general and notes neither the motivation of Zhang in taking up this unusual repertory, nor its source; apparently the quintet arrangements are those of Ignaz Lachner (1807-1895). There are string quartet arrangements of Mozart concertos, but the addition of the bass in these versions is desirable. Lachner was a composer and conductor who was quite successful with his Mozart concerto arrangements; he made perhaps a dozen of them, and you can see why: for a household rendition of a Mozart piano concerto in the days before recordings, they were invaluable. The two comparatively early concertos recorded here work particularly well; their wind parts were important, certainly, but not extensive, and the move to a homogeneous focus on the pure melodic contents is feasible. Zhang, backed by string players of the NDR Philharmonic (this seems to be the NDR Radiophilharmonie in Hannover, where Zhang has studied, not the NDR Elbphilharmonie), offers smooth readings in a classic German Mozart style. His cantabile in the slow movements is especially nice; sample that of the C major concerto. An NDR studio provides ideal sound. Not earthshaking, but a careful recording of rather rare items.

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