Mozart Piano Concertos Nos 23 and 24
Some years ago Mitsuko Uchida confessed to me that she had mixed feelings about the complete cycle of the Mozart piano concertos she recorded for Philips. Pride and joy at achieving an ultimate musical ambition was mixed with a sense that, perhaps inevitably, some performances were better than others; lots of ups and just a few downs. The urge to re-record took hold, this time conducting from the keyboard (she was previously partnered by Jeffrey Tate) and here she revisits her beloved Mozart in readings of the greatest poetic poise, empathy and refinement.
Not to put too fine a point on it, here is sublime Mozart-playing whether in C minor turbulence or A major radiance. In K491 (offered before K488) Uchida conveys an ineffable sadness with sudden withdrawals of such subtlety that all the shades of autumn seem with us, though with those shafts of light that can illuminate even Mozart’s darkest moments. Her own first-movement cadenza is brilliantly apt and in K488, while nothing is plain sailing, everything is as natural as it is revelatory. When have you heard the central F sharp minor Siciliano more gently or lovingly confided, or the opera buffa finale more joyfully spun off? Lines are discreetly decorated and the Cleveland Orchestra are entirely at one with their inspired soloist. Balance and sound are ideal and even a few bars will convince you that you are listening to one of the truly great artists of our time.