which mozart recording to buy
June 10, 2008 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Mozart's complete piano concertos: Which pianist/recording is the best?

I am going to get myself a copy of the complete concertos! But there are many recordings of them by different pianists. Among them: Perahia, Uchida, Barenboim, Brendel, Buchbinder, Anda, Ashkenazy, and probably a whole bunch more that I haven't even seen yet.

So, I am hoping that someone out there will have some recommendations for me. (Just to give an idea of my exposure to all this, I have heard some of Barenboim and Uchida's work on the concertos, and I enjoyed both a lot. But I've heard that some of the others on the above list give a more technical/classical-sounding interpretation, which I'd also be interested in hearing.)
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't listened to these in a while, but I've heard a bunch of different interpretations (some on your list plus some others). Uchida was the one that stuck with me as the desert-island pick.

I've heard many of the Brendel recordings, and I don't think you can go wrong with them. I mean, he has this stuff down pat. But I feel like you get that extra ounce of ... I don't know, sensuality? ... with Uchida. Oh, wait, I just noticed your comment about wanting something more "technical/classical" -- in that case, maybe stay on the safe side and get Brendel.

I've seen Ashkenazy's criticized as slightly bland (though excellent). His is the main version of #25 that I have, and I used to listen to it all. the. time. That pretty much become my idea of what the concerto is supposed to sound like, so I assume it was pretty well done and not too idiosyncratic.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:14 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by Gyan at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2008

The period instrument sets, with Malcolm Bilson and Robert Levin, are revelatory. Mozart wrote the concertos for himself and improvised extensively during performances, often writing out only a compressed set of hints of what to do. Levin improvises using these hints rather than a later performing edition, and he improvises all of the cadenzas.

There many many great performers who did not do complete sets, and you can't afford to limit yourself. Arthur Schnabel, Ingrid Haebler and Mieczyslaw Horszowski , for example, made amazing recordings that should be in every Mozart lover's library.

Rudolf Buchbinder is an unappreciated master, and Mitsuko Uchida got her start as a Mozart specialist. You will love either set.
posted by KRS at 2:42 PM on June 10, 2008

Alfred Brendel. For example.
posted by spasm at 4:35 PM on June 10, 2008

I have Uchida's set and thoroughly enjoy it. Yes, she's known for her Mozart.

Personally, I don't like anybody's piano concertos on original instruments. I just prefer a modern piano. And I say this as someone who owns the Hogwood/AAM set of Mozart's symphonies.

So I can't tell you which set to get, but hopefully I've given you some things to consider.
posted by pmurray63 at 5:33 PM on June 10, 2008

Although not a complete recording, I really enjoyed Leif Ove Andsnes's concertos 17 and 23, even preferring him to the 2005 Brendel. He's also recorded 9 & 18, which I haven't heard yet.

Brendel is unsurpassed when it comes to Beethoven, Schubert or Liszt, but I've always found his Mozart a bit dull. Can anyone prove me wrong with better recordings?
posted by stereo at 2:51 AM on June 11, 2008

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