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These are first releases on compact disc, taken from the Ludwigsburg Festival of 1956. On 11 July, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli essayed two contrasting piano concertos by Mozart. In decent mono sound, clear and full, there is an ardour and determination that informs the orchestral introduction to K466. Michelangeli’s first entry is a little slower than the tempo set by the conductor, but pianist and orchestra work well together thereafter. Michelangeli’s technical address is chiselled and controlled, the solo part finely considered, and his choice of Beethoven’s cadenzas fits well with his overall interpretation of the concerto. The slow movement may today be found a little cloying, although the musicians’ sympathy for it should not be doubted. The finale is delivered with urgency.

Swiss-born Antoine de Bavier contributes much to the success of these performances. Dates for him are scarce, but he was still alive in 2002. He began his career as a clarinettist before turning to conducting at Furtwängler’s suggestion. K450 opens in jocular fashion, swift and urbane, Michelangeli delivering the first movement as a toccata, brilliant and incisive. Conductor and orchestra are in complete agreement, with high spirits countered by the aria-like Andante, its pathos highlighted (despite some vagaries of pitch), and the witty finale has a well-defined shape. Mozart’s music can be played so preciously nowadays; these accounts not only act as a welcome antidote but are also a record of a great pianist on a particular day. Applause is retained.

COLIN ANDERSON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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