The last movement of the B flat major Concerto, Allegro, is very happy
and joyous music with a minimum of angst or doubt. The movement opens
with the piano expressing a playful theme in a rocking 6/8 rhythm which
concludes with a rousing orchestral flourish. The second theme, also
playful, is then introduced. The remainder of the movement is largely a
series of expansions and variations on the two initial themes presented
in elegant and delicately controlled passage work which highlights the
dialogue among the instruments. There is a prevalent atmosphere of youth
and simplicity to the Allegro which I feel contradicts the notion of
Mozart's "resignation" of death. An excellent performance highlights
the music's playfulness, joy, youthful bounce, and simplicity; also,
the "rousing orchestral flourish" needs to be strong and dynamic.
All of the versions are very worthy, but four are my favorites. O'Conor
has the most youthful reading, and Mackerras is superb. Schiff is the most
playful and conversational; Vegh directs very well. Jarrett just sounds
the best all-around. Gilels is a special case, because he makes the music
very "serious". Giving at times what seems like a slow-motion performance,
Gilels sucks out every serious strand of music, dramatizes it, and gives it
weight. I like this reading very much. It's not how I view the movement,
but the conception works so well and is executed to perfection by Gilels
and Bohm. I'm a flexible guy.
Wrap-Up of Piano Concerto No. 27:
I thought I would enjoy the Annie Fischer version very much, but that
wasn't the case. The performance never catches "fire"; the majesty,
counterpoint, dialogue, joy, drama, etc., are all in relatively short
O'Conor, De Larrocha, Perahia, Schiff, and Goode provide very good
recordings. I thought that De Larrrocha and Goode improved considerably
over their readings of Piano Concerto No. 19. O'Conor, again, is mighty
fine except in the first movement.
Gilels and Haskil are excellent. Gilels is in great form throughout the
concerto, and he couldn't ask for a better partner than Bohm. Haskil's
transcendent first movement is essential listening.
My favorite version is Jarrett/Davies. First, Jarrett, like Gilels, is
on all cylinders throughout the movement, and his first movement is in
Haskil's league. Second, Davies provides outstanding support with a high
degree of versatility. Third, the sound is superb. The clarity is the
best I've ever heard, and the performing forces all benefit from it.
Going back to the four recordings having the identical coupling (De
Larrocha, Haskil, Schiff, Goode), Haskil is my preferred coupling by a
significant margin. The other three have many fine points, but the first
movements from Haskil are wonderous.
Specifically concerning Goode, I can't give anything but a qualified
recommendation. His B flat major performance is very good, but the F major
leaves me flat. I'd recommend sampling his F major first movement. If you
enjoy that performance, the entire disc should be very rewarding.
My next reivew will be of Trevor Pinnock's new set of Bach's Partitas for
Harpsichord on Hanssler. I'll have four other full sets for comparison.
It will be slow going for awhile; I'm off to sunny California for most
of the week.
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