Vassily Primakov / Scott Yoo / Odense Symphony Orchestra

Mozart: Piano Concertos, Vol. 1

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Vassily Primakov's first volume of Mozart's piano concertos bodes well for further volumes. The accompanying notes do not say at all if Primakov intends to survey all the concertos, nor does it tell why he begins the series with the last ones. Regardless, Primakov proves that he and Mozart are very compatible, and very companionable, for that matter. His performance, especially of the concertos No. 24 and No. 25 -- the better two of Mozart's last four -- is easy on the listener's ears: charming, lively, not overly refined. There is just the right amount of softness and lightness in his touch to suit the amiability of the music. Although he's performing on a modern piano and the recording is generally well balanced, there are occasional passages where the orchestra playing at forte dynamics threatens to drown out Primakov, but otherwise, the Odense Symphony (the same orchestra that accompanied Primakov in his well-regarded Chopin concertos recording) and conductor Scott Yoo are of a single mind with Primakov in the approach to Mozart's music. The orchestra even tries to match their overall tone with Primakov's. In the final movement of the Concerto No. 24, the music is firmly played and sternly majestic, but it isn't severe or martial in sound. Musically, the only odd choice on the whole recording is that of the Fauré cadenza in the first movement of that same concerto. It is overtly and overly Romantic, and even though Primakov plays it with the same touch as the rest of the music, it just doesn't fit comfortably with Mozart's writing; it would go better with Chopin's. Otherwise, however, there's no pretense as to any importance of these works' or the composer's in music history. They are just there for Primakov's and our pleasure.

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