Music and Vision homepage


<<  -- 2 --  Malcolm Miller    MOZART TO SAVOUR


It was apt for Alfred Brendel to begin with the 'Jeunehomme' concerto in E flat, K 271, so youthful and nimble is his interpretative elan and dexterity. But both this and the great C major concerto K 503 showed a new depth of interpretation combining the inner qualities and reflective passion of the music, and some sophisticated musical wit in the cadenzas. This was a performance to savour, and after the third movement, one sensed an audience palpably moved. It began with the bristling clarity of the first movement, the main motif pointed high and low, with chiaroscuro shading, eloquent emphasis of chromatic octaves leading into the second subject. Brendel's slow movement had beauty and intensity, with passionate emphasis of interesting structural pitches. There was pathos in the evocatively dovetailed dialogues with the strings; left-hand chords emerged inconspicuously from tuttis, the melody poised evanescently above. The rondo finale was both heroic and imbued with a dreamy delicacy in the figurations, of the main theme. Yet at the unexpected A flat major diversion, tempo slackened and one was suddenly transported to a higher spiritual plane, a reflective concerto conversation between Brendel and the orchestra, Mozart as Mozart might have dreamt it.

The C major Concerto K 503 began with apt grandiosity, the bold orchestral textures balanced by Brendel's bright emphasis of the main motif which pervades the movement in myriad colours and modal changes. The operatic ethos of the work came across powerfully, Brendel capturing its Figaro-esque march-like gait in his witty and original cadenza, that began as though in allusion to the Marseillaise, moving into some intricate contrapuntal extravagance. It is Cosi that comes to mind in the slow movement, where Brendel's cantabile shaping of the slow movement's theme, suggestive of Despina's aria, was full of nuance, as also in the modulatory sequences shared by piano and woodwind, with its delicate pointed bassoon bass. The finale based on a gavotte from Idomeneo had a wonderfully boisterous charm, and as in the first movement, Brendel's passagework was meltingly luminescent, his touch reminiscent both of Ingrid Haebler's sweetness and light and the steely depth of Arrau. If the experience of such supreme music making was a singular privilege, so too was the enjoyment of their adventurous new paths through familiar territories, a rich appetiser to a recording that promises to be nothing short of exceptional.

Copyright © 30 June 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




 << Music & Vision home           Maxwell Davies >>