AOM Logo September 1998

Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 9 in Eb, K . 271; No. 25 in C, K. 503

Richard Goode, piano
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Nonesuch 79454-2

Playing Time: 62:43

Anthony Kershaw

Record Cover

American pianist, Richard Goode, and the conductor-less Orpheus Chamber Orchestra combine their considerable energies to produce some stylish and deeply-felt Mozart in this wonderful Nonesuch release. Here we have two masterful examples of the classical concerto genre, the Piano Concertos K. 271 in Eb and K. 503 in C. Each concerto stands on its significant merit representing the middle and late periods of Mozart's incredibly fruitful life.

Mozart's genius and energy can be found throughout both works. His beautiful melodies and rich harmonies mix with sparkling orchestral sound and superb piano playing, all enhanced by loving interpretations. New York-based Goode has an outstanding technique on which he relies to produce a splendid tone. He seems to have found that elusive quality that all Mozartian's enjoy and that mere instrumentalists crave - a lighter than air quality that begs interest and involvement while hiding the difficulty a performer finds lying beneath the notes. Let's be realistic for a moment. For many, this writer included, Mozart is the most difficult composer to perform and for the simplest of reasons - the difficulty is disguised brilliantly as simplicity. And while the Orpheus and Goode are not in the Brain or Bachauer universe, one can purchase their disc with confidence and with the knowledge that some of the finest modern-day Mozart awaits.

The Orpheus Chamber OrchestraRichard Goode

The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra members give much of themselves to make this recording a complete success. They are also New York-based, and in this release put the emphasis on chamber rather than orchestra. Phrase after phrase had me nodding and grinning at their sheer natural brilliance and also their feeling for one another's playing. Here, a conductor would only have served to complicate the issue.

Some things of interest: Goode plays his own cadenza in K. 503 but uses Mozart's own for K. 271. The recording, in the cavernous acoustic of New York's Manhattan Center, has been tamed appropriately for Mozart. Engineers Wilcox and Zinman give the listener a not-too-close perspective yet keep the ear attuned to Goode's always lovely tone.

Most collectors will already have one or two great versions of these Mozart treasures in their trove (Murray Perahia and/or Géza Anda, perhaps?), but give Goode a go. Nonesuch have given us a super disc and recorded a partnership that serves Mozart in a most musical way.

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