03 Mozart Concertos Richard HamelinMozart – Piano Concertos Nos.20 & 23
Charles Richard-Hamelin; Les Violons du Roy; Jonathan Cohen
Analekta AN 2 9026 (outhere-music.com/en/labels/analekta)

In February 1785, Mozart’s father wrote to his daughter from Vienna referring to “an excellent new piano concerto by Wolfgang, on which the copyist was still at work when we got here, and your brother didn’t even have time to play through the rondo because he had to revise the copy.” The work in question was the renowned Concerto No.20 in D Minor K466, the first of only two concertos Mozart wrote in a minor key. Its premiere proved to be a great success and is presented together with the Concerto in A Major K488 on this fine Analekta recording with pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin and Les Violons du Roi conducted by Jonathan Cohen.

Richard-Hamelin was silver medalist at the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition and winner of the Krystian Zimerman Prize for best performance of a sonata, so it should come as no surprise that this recording is a joy. Richard-Hamelin delivers a polished and elegant performance, the phrasing clearly articulated, while under Cohen’s skilful baton, Les Violons de Roy prove a formidable and sensitive partner. The second movement Romance is perhaps a little brisker than we’re used to, but the exuberant third movement – with the cheeky D Major ending – is undertaken with great panache.

Compared to the dramatic mood of K466, K488 is all serenity. Completed almost a year later it was premiered at a subscription concert with Mozart as soloist. Again, the ensemble offers a spirited and well-controlled sound with the melding of soloist and orchestra truly a fortuitous one. An added bonus is the Adagio and Fugue in C Minor K546 which brings the program to a most satisfying conclusion.

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