Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 17 & 27 / Klien, Skrowaczewski, Minnesota Orchestra

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The piano concerto was the category in which Mozart most consistently excelled, in which he most successfully combined elements of virtuosity and depth, of chamber music and symphonic style, of regard for his public and for personal expression. No. 17 is one of six piano concertos he composed in 1784, two of them, including this one, for one of the most talented of his own pupils, Barbara Ployer. Scored for the same instrumentation as No. 17, No. 27 was his last piano concerto. It stands alone, because its content and character make it unique and it is deeply personal, having a feeling of subdued gravity. Pianist Walter Klien studied with Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Paul Hindemith and performed with the world’s top orchestras. The present recording was realized in 1978 by the famous production team of Joanna Nickrenz and Marc Aubort from the appropriately named "Elite Recordings". Many of their projects have achieved collector status, especially those with American orchestras.


Collectors of a certain age may remember this attractive pairing of Mozart’s 17th and 27th piano concertos through its original LP release on Vox’s subsidiary label Candide. It also turned up on CD as part of Vox’s long gone budget Prima series. Newly remastered for Vox’s new Audiophile Series, this 1978 Elite Recordings production supervised by Marc Aubort and Joanna Nickrenz retains its vivid impact and vibrant detail.

Notice the orchestral ritornellos’ ebb and flow under Stanisław Skrowaczewski’s leadership, and how the forward woodwinds and singing strings conversationally interact. Even in loud tuttis one can take dictation from each orchestral strand. Pianist Walter Klien’s Mozart playing is a model of clarity, projection, poise, and proportion, and he never puts an unbalanced or uneven phrase forward. He’s also one of the few pianists on disc who doesn’t approach Mozart’s final concerto with kid gloves, meaning that his slow movement is full-bodied and fluent rather than ethereal and wispy, and that he doesn’t underplay the finale’s scampering thrust. Sometimes Klien’s phrasing falls into square and tinkly assembly line patterns.

You won’t find the witty inflections and dabs of color that you hear from Peter Serkin or Maria-João Pires in K. 453’s wonderful theme and variations finale. Nor does Klien’s clean yet regimented articulation in K. 595’s first-movement development section match Richard Goode’s harmonic subtlety and feeling for chamber-like repartée. Still, these interpretations won’t steer you wrong. And while I have the floor, we need a truly complete boxed set edition of Skrowaczewski’s Vox recordings!

-- (Jed Distler)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: February 10, 2023

  • UPC: 747313301287

  • Catalog Number: VOX-NX-3012CD

  • Label: Vox Classics

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Classical

  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Conductor: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Minnesota Orchestra

  • Performer: Walter Klien


  1. Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, Op. 9, K. 453

    Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Ensemble: Minnesota Orchestra

    Performer: Walter Klien (Piano)

    Conductor: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski

  2. Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-Flat Major, Op. 17, K. 595

    Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Ensemble: Minnesota Orchestra

    Performer: Walter Klien (Piano)

    Conductor: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski