Mozart: Complete Piano Concertos / Brautigam, Willens, Cologne Academy
An ideal mixture of clarity and stylish effervescence’ (International Record Review) and ‘a completely new, crisp “Mozart-feel” for the 21st century’ (Stereoplay) were just a couple of the reactions from reviewers to the fresh, sometimes bracing readings that Ronald Brautigam and the Kölner Akademie offered up during their series of Mozart’s piano concertos. Released between 2010 and 2016, individual installments also received special recommendations from websites and magazines such as Klassik-Heute, Luister, Scherzo and Gramophone, which listed the team’s performances of concertos Nos 18 and 22 among its ‘50 greatest Mozart recordings’.
The albums have now been collected in a boxed set, with the addition of the double and triple concertos that Brautigam recorded in 2006 with Alexei Lubimov and Manfred Huss as his fellow soloists, accompanied by the Haydn Sinfonietta Wien. The set spans Mozart’s entire career, from the 11-year old budding composer’s so-called ‘pasticcio concertos’ (Nos 1-4) to Piano Concerto No.27 in B flat major, K595, which he gave the first performance of less than a year before his death in December 1791. The discs are accompanied by the original booklets, with informative liner notes by the musicologist John Irving, author of several books on Mozart.
One of the key revelations that elevates Ronald Brautigam’s fortepiano set of Mozart concertos above many of its rivals is the addition of a version with clarinets, trumpets and timpani of the wonderful Concerto in E flat for two pianos (the first pianist in this case is Alexei Lubimov), which alters the scale of the piece almost to the level of Beethoven. Of course, the version without bells and whistles (metaphorically speaking, you understand) is also included, as is the Rondo in D, K382, and the concert aria Ch’io mi scordi di te?, superbly sung by Carolyn Sampson. Michael Alexander Willens directs the Kölner Akademie for all but the concertos for two and three pianos, where Manfred Huss directs the Haydn Sinfonietta Wien. The balance of fortepiano(s) against a medium-size orchestra reveals much in the orchestral writing that would otherwise go for little, especially in the bigger, later works: in fact, there are times when you could as well be hearing symphonies with keyboard obbligato, except that Brautigam’s playing is so deft and nimble that you could hardly take it for granted. The recordings are superb.
Release Date: November 06, 2020
Catalog Number: BIS-2544
Number of Discs: 12
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: Michael Alexander Willens
Orchestra/Ensemble: Kolner Akademie, Haydn Sinfonietta Wien
Performer: Ronald Brautigam, Alexei Lubimov, Manfred Huss, Carolyn Sampson