MOZART Piano Concertos Nos 18 & 21

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra / Richard Goode Nonesuch 79439-2
Good things come to those who wait. And Richard Goode is a patient man. An inquisitive man, too. He knows that one must comes to these concertos (and this is an auspicious start to a complete series) with many questions still unanswered, he knows full well that he - he and everyone else - can never know all the answers. That's a good place to start, this and every time.

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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