the one-star reviews could be chalked up to a drastic change of style in Mozart playing -- the broad tempos taken in Mozart's last piano concerto, K. 595, allow for elegant phrasing and reflective pauses on Curzon's part, but younger listeners may squirm simply because the piece seems to drag. Although the two-piano concerto appeared on the same Proms program in 1979, barenboim seems to inspire livelier participation all around. I think almost any listener, old or young, could spot how delightfully paired the older and younger pianist are. The BBC's stereo sound is unusually good, too. At the time, Barenboim was making a splash by recording Mozart's concertos with the smaller forces of the English chamber Orch., and commentators considered his approach fresh and light -- how quickly times would change; the period-performance movement made any touches of romanticism in this music sound fusty. If you find them eloquent instead, you will enjoy these two performances.
the generous (78 min.) program is filled out with a mono recording from Aldeburgh in 1960, where one icon of British music-making met another. Britten and Curzon join in a lively if somewhat sloppy reading of Mozart's two-piano sonata K. 448. clearly both are enjoying themselves. the mood is summery, the reading all smiles, the sound a bit trying in its boxiness. I was reminded of the splendid four-hand concerts that Britten, an excellent pianist, gave with his great friend Sviatoslav Richter. It takes a good deal of courage to share a piano bench with that particular partner!
Despite my praise and general enjoyment, I have to withhold a star considering the overly broad tempos in K. 595, which even Curzon's stylishness can't quite overcome.