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Mitsuko Uchida & Radu Lupu in Concert

Further in celebration of Sir Colin Davis’ 80th birthday (coming up on September 25th) and a little leftover spirit from the Mozart anniversary, the New York Philharmonic presented a concert last Wednesday that would make any music lover salivate. Colin Davis conducted both, Mitsuko Uchida and Radu Lupu in Mozart Piano Concertos.

First Mitsuko Uchida repeated her performance of the F-Major K459 concerto that she had given in the previous run of concerts. (Reviewed here.) Then Radu Lupu contributed the B-flat Major Concerto, K.595, before the two joined in the Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E-flat Major K.365/316a. The concertos were preceded by a fine Symphony No.32 – more an overture, really – that served as an entertaining 10 minute curtain-raiser for such an occasion.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Klavierkonzert in B-dur - Takte 47-53Radu Lupu’s K.595 was held back, with an almost noble, calm flow to it. Occasionally faster ripples would disturb the calm, but only on the very surface. Maestro Davis followed this carefully paced, not to say droopy-eyed, interpretation with great care and diligence – Lupu himself interacted with the flute when they exchanged musical words. The very deliberate Larghetto was followed by a tighter Allegro. The concerto was played in the Wolfgang Rehm’s Bärenreiter Edition which is now available online free, for fair use, as part of the “Neue Mozart Ausgabe”. This edition, around since 1960, added seven ‘lost’ bars to the first movement (Allegro) that now appear as bars 47-53 [pictured above; click to enlarge]; bars that are, for example, missing from some of the earlier available recordings of this concerto.)

The almost nervously active, entirely playful and animated Mitsuko Uchida on one side, on the other Radu Lupu, understated, relaxed and contributing his part to K.365 with casual flair, leaning back on a regular chair as if only half-involved – that was the curious and utterly delightful sight when these two artists came together on stage for the Concerto for Two Pianos. Lupu had his arms crossed whenever he wasn’t sprinkling and thumping notes from the keyboard into Alice Tully Hall. The concerto itself (1779) is every bit as inspired, beauty-seeking, and lighthearted as we know from other works; hardly a lesser product, even if it neither challenges the players very much nor dazzles the ear as do the products in that genre from his Vienna days. Mr. Lupu was able to allow himself the utterly nonchalant relaxation during the half hour it took to perform – and if anything, the casual spirit of the music was enhanced by it. Aside, when two such artists come together, being less than impressed is not an option.