Edwin Fischer / London Philharmonic Orchestra

Mozart: Piano Concertos, the Complete Studio Recordings 1933-47

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This three-disc set of all of the studio recordings of Mozart's piano concertos and sonatas made by German pianist Edwin Fischer between 1933-1947 may elicit different responses from his fans than from listeners not already persuaded of his greatness. For fans, hearing the relatively young Fischer fly through Mozart's Allegros, sing through his Andantes, and dance through his Rondos will stir up feelings of boldness, happiness, and above all, youthfulness. Others may have a hard time understanding what his fans see in the pianist, because as even his strongest advocates have to acknowledge, he did not possess the world's greatest technique, and slips, smudges, slurs, and flat out wrong notes abound in his playing. Fischer does not seem to mind in the least; indeed, he seems almost gleeful romping through Mozart's music. Even listeners initially put off by Fischer's seemingly cavalier attitude toward the notes may be persuaded that enjoying playing Mozart and bringing out the musical and emotional heights and depths are not contradictory but complementary pursuits, and that the joy and happiness Fischer finds in the music is, despite the technical flaws, pure Mozart. Many, though not all the performances here, are conducted as well as played by Fischer. This may be a deterrent for some because Fischer is not much of a conductor, and some may not appreciate the cadenzas, which are wholly his own. The sound, though considerably cleaned up by the engineers, is still extremely antique, with lots of compression, not much depth, and a fair amount of surface noise, but this may be a factor Fischer's fans are willing to tolerate.

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