by Michael Lyons, Music Director
There are those of us (and according to the statistics it is mostly the male of the species) that have a real need to collect. If you are afflicted with this condition then you will recognize that part of the condition is the need to collect complete sets of things. It is not OK, for example, to own only 101 of the Haydn symphonies, you must own all 104– and technically you will need to include the Symphonie Concertante in Bb because it counts as the Symphony 105. And so it goes. This condition puts you in the same category as major libraries and Smithsonian-type museums. The rest of you will not care about this need to collect complete sets which is quite fine and normal. This recent Philips re-issue of Mozart piano concertos is wonderful because it serves all of our needs.
Let me explain. Although this 8 CD set contains only 21 of the 27 concertos written for piano and orchestra by Mozart it is complete in essence in that these are the works that represent the composers significant output for the genre. The early concertos for example are merely student pieces—suitable for studying but certainly not essential Mozart. We are left with an invaluable survey of the concertos that served Mozart in providing his daily bread and butter. Written over the span of his career specifically so that he could show off his pianistic technique and musical brilliance always trying to find something new with which to dazzle the European audiences that he faced. In the piano concertos we get a real sense of Mozart’s musical development all the while enjoying his finest music. While the concertos were written as disposable units Mozart continued to perform the Concerto #14 right up until his death suggesting that he himself was aware of their individual richness.
Pianist Mitsuko Uchida teamed up with Jeffrey Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra in 1986 to begin this cycle which they completed in 1992. All of the selected concertos were recorded over a span of six years and released as single CD’s and completed just before she required surgery on her hands to allow her to continue with her career. This is as fine a document of these beloved concertos as you will find anywhere. Now very neatly packaged as an 8 CD set in an attractive white box, you will have all the Mozart piano concertos you will ever really need, unless of course…you have the bug.
(PHILIPS 475 7306)