MOZART Piano Concertos Nos 18 & 21
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra / Richard Goode Nonesuch 79439-2
Writer and broadcaster Edward Seckerson is Chief Classical Music and Opera Critic for The Independent. He wrote and presented the long-running BBC Radio 3 series Stage & Screen, in which he interviewed many of the most prominent writers and stars of musical theatre. He appears regularly on BBC Radio 3 and 4. On television, he has commentated a number of times at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. He has published books on Mahler and the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and has been on Gramophone Magazine's review panel for many years. Edward presented the 2007 series of the Radio 4 music quiz Counterpoint. He has interviewed everyone from Leonard Bernstein to Liza Minelli; from Paul McCartney to Pavarotti: from Julie Andrews to Jessye Norman.
Friday 28 March 1997
The golden mean in Mozart is elusive: how to place the slow movement of the D minor Concerto so as to respect its chasteness yet reveal its sublimity? Goode comes close. How to convey a sense of spontaneity, of surprise at each new take, each new angle on the knowing (and somewhat wistful) little theme of the andante poco sostenuto from the B flat major Concerto? Goode comes closer. The variation with woodwinds is a real conversation piece with real individuals, not some faceless committee. Which brings me to the company Goode keeps. Orpheus are well used to acting alone (no conductor), so the unanimity and resilience of the tutti playing is assured.
With the opening of the D minor Concerto, dark and furtive, the cloaked figure of Don Giovanni looms around every corner, keening woodwinds, trumpets, drums and rosiny strings lending genuine fire to this instrumental opera seria. The balances seem to me ideal, the interactions sharp and quick- witted - in-the-moment. And the moment is now. Tomorrow will be different. There's the wonder of it. As Goode powers his way into Beethoven's "futuristic" cadenza for the first movement, time no longer seems relevant.
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