Karin Kei Nagano / Cecilia String Quartet

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 12 & 13

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Mozart did, it's true, "authorize" the performance of some of his piano concertos by piano and string quartet, as the notes to this Analekta release point out. But, as a Vienna freelancer in uncharted territory, he could hardly have done otherwise, and to suggest, from the perspective of 21st century Canada and its social safety net, that this indicates anything about the desirability of such a performance is questionable. Truth to tell, these two concertos from 1782, although their wind parts are not as prominent as those in some of the later ones, still sound a bit bare in their contrasts between solo and tutti here. The main reason for recommending this release comes from the chance to get in on the ground floor with a potential future star, 15-year-old Karin Kei Nagano, daughter of conductor Kent Nagano and pianist Mari Kodama. With a pedigree like that you might expect her to be listening to Quebecois trash rock, but she's both competent and fresh. She gets an unusual narrative sense out of both of the opening movements, her slow movements have an arresting cantabile, and she does what she can with the balance between string quartet and piano. Here's to hearing her in something like Debussy soon.

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