MOZART Piano Concertos (Tryon)
It’s good to be reminded just how much fun Mozart’s works involving multiple pianos are. The concertos for two and three keyboards don’t come out much, mainly due to the logistics of shifting extra Steinways into the orchestra hall. They both date from the mid-1770s, so they’re lighter works than the miraculous run of Viennese concertos from the following decade, but they’re no less demanding for the pianists and full of wonderful, witty things. The pianos here are ideally separated in the sound picture, so you can hear exactly who’s doing what, and a splendid time is audibly had by all, both in the concertos (Tryon with Donohoe plus Rushdie Momen for K242) and in the D major Sonata, K448 (Tryon and Donohoe).
The ubiquitous pairing of the adjacent D minor and C major solo concertos demonstrates, as Michael Quinn’s comprehensive booklet notes remind us, the evolution of Mozart’s understanding of the piano and its capabilities. Anyone discovering them here for the first time is unlikely to be disappointed. Tryon’s pianism is faultless (she’s spotlit a touch in the sound picture) and the woodwind solos are ideally mellifluous. What’s lacking is the sense of discovery: these are, after all, among the works that redefined the expressive parameters of the keyboard concerto. Everything is in the right place but the sense of living on the edge in the D minor Concerto (and in the C minor Fantasia) is sadly missing and the C major Concerto comes over as merely polite, notwithstanding a beautifully moulded slow movement. Nevertheless, the disc is worthwhile for the multi-piano works.