Mozart: Concerto for Two Pian
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Mozart: Double Concerto / Piano Concerto No. 27 / Sonata for 2 Pianos, K. 365,448,595
The posthumous reputation of Clifford Curzon rests on regrettably few studio recordings, testimony to an absolute perfectionism when it came to committing his thoughts for the future. So the present disc is a valuable addition to his legacy. Few of Curzon's contemporaries approached his understanding of Mozart as did Benjamin Britten, and although this Aldeburgh Festival account of the Two-Piano Sonata starts brusquely, the dovetailing of responses in the andante and finale are what live music making is all about. Admittedly the Two-Piano Concerto fares less well. Curzon and Barenboim sound slightly tentative in their interplay, as though more time were needed to really make the conception gel, although an unseasonably bronchial Royal Albert Hall audience can't have helped. What makes this disc indispensable is the artless account of Mozart's final Piano Concerto. Curzon attempts on the work in the studio always left him dissatisfied: hearing this humane and wise account, inspiration truly caught on the wing, you can appreciate why. Barenboim and the ECO accompany discreetly yet thoughtfully: quite simply, you won't hear better. --Richard Whitehouse
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Curzon lavishes great weight on every note while dragging nothing.The Finale is as ambivalent as I think Mozart intended, both dark and sunny, optimistic and regretful. The balance that Curzon and Barenboim achieve is enviable.
In the double concerto, Curzon's only version of it, the soloists are energetic and mostly articulate, but a noticable fluff/memory lapse occurs just before the entry of the second theme of the first movement. Best here is the second movement. The k448 Sonata for two pianos
is mostly delightful. Curzon and Britten had then played together for almost twnty years. The finale almost runs away from them in their exuberance. Not preferable to a few studio performances but worth hearing. I do prefer the #27 to the Decca Curzon-Britten version and would rank it with his partnerships with Szell/Decca, Kubelil/Audite and Kertesz/Decca.
Peers in #10: Brendel/Cooper/Marriner/Philips, Haebler/Hoffmann/Galliera/Philips, The Serkins/Schneider/Sony, Haskil/Anda/Galliera/EMI, Foldes/Seemann/Lehmann/DG
peers in the sonata k448: Haebler/Hoffman/Philips, Frager/Ashkenazy/Decca, The Pekinels/Teldec, Cooper/Queffelec/Ottavo
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.