Sunday Classics preview: Piano concertos, piano concertos, and (what else?) more piano concertos
Opening of the slow movement of Mozart's K. 414 Concerto
We hear Daniel Barenboim conduct the Berlin Philharmonic in the opening theme of the Andante of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414, then play the solo statement of the theme. We're going to hear the whole movement in a moment.
This week it's piano concertos, piano concertos, piano concertos. I'm coming off the four evenings of New York Concert Artists' fourth season of Evenings of Piano Concerti (hence EPC IV) -- 15 pianists and 14 concertos in those four nights (one Friday and three Saturdays) in the acoustically exuberant confines of the Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church on West 66th Street in Manhattan. I'll be talking more about the smorgasbord on Sunday, but for tonight I thought we'd preview two of the concertos that left especially memorable impressions in this happy-crazy concerto immersion.
My hero for the event was a conductor who has featured prominently in the EPC programs and this year conducted the first and third of the four: Eduard Zilberkant. In tonight's preview I'm highlighting some of the music that particularly gave me the sense that I was hearing a very special conductor.
In the third concert, on May 26, EZ and pianist Shiran Wang made a major statement of what I would describe as one of the "second-tier" Mozart piano concertos, No. 12 in A. I should try to explain that by "second-tier" I don't mean second-rate; I consider them second-tier by the standard of Mozart's concertos. And the thing about them is that they're always ready to be realized -- by performers of sufficient imagination and commitment -- as top-tier experiences. In this performance I took special note of the melting beauty he coaxed out of his little chamber orchestra for the opening of the Andante, which so beautifully matched the soloist's subsequent statement of the theme. (The theme, by the way, isn't Mozart's. It was borrowed as a tribute to a composer Mozart knew and admired, Johann Christian Bach, the "London" Bach, the youngest of Johann Sebastian's sons, who had died, at 46, in January of 1782, the year in which K. 414 was composed.)
As promised above, we're going to hear the whole of the slow movement of K. 414.
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414:
Berlin Philharmonic, Daniel Barenboim, piano and cond. Teldec, recorded March 1996
Going back to the first concert, on May 11, in the second work on the program, Zilberkant already demonstrated the kind of lyrical intensity he could inspire his hardy band to in the lyrical Andante of the first movement of Saint-Saëns's Fourth Concerto. Then in the concluding Allegro of the second movement, with a full complement of brasses chiming in, he showed how his musicians could set the lovely open space of the church's compact space reverberating with wall-to-wall music.
We're going to hear both the Mozart and the Saint-Saëns concertos complete on Sunday. For tonight I've ripped these chunks out of the two movements of the Saëns Fourth, in both cases including the music that leads up to the sections I mean to highlight. (From the first movement we hear roughly 4:41-7:58 of the 12:53 Ciccolini-Baudo performance. From the second movement we hear roughly 5:36-10:34 of the 12:46 Entremont-Ormandy performance.)
SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor, Op. 44:
excerpt from i. Allegro moderato; Andante
Aldo Ciccolini, piano; Orchestre de Paris, Serge Baudo, cond. EMI, recorded Nov.-Dec. 1970
excerpt from ii. Allegro vivace; Andante; Allegro
Philippe Entremont, piano; Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy, cond. Columbia/CBS/Sony, recorded Feb. 5, 1961
IN THIS WEEK'S SUNDAY CLASSICS POST
We'll talk more about the EPC IV concertothon, and hear the whole of these Mozart and Saint-Saëns concertos.
UPDATE: A scaleback in the plan -- Sunday we focus just on the Mozart K. 414 Concerto.