Imogen Cooper - Mozart Piano Concertos

Imogen Cooper and the Northern Sinfonia are too heavy handed and unimaginative with Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos.18 & 22

Composer: Mozart
Repertoire: Piano Concertos Nos.18 & 22
Artists:  Northern Sinfonia/Imogen Cooper (pf) & Bradley Creswick
Rating:  3/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Avie AV2200

The Music These two works come from that marvellous period in the mid-1780s when Mozart was composing one superb piano concerto after another. As so often, he writes ravishing tunes for the woodwind, particularly in the slow movements and, in K.482, the lyrical section that interrupts the Finale. 

The Performance As you would expect from this, the north-east of England’s excellent chamber orchestra, the playing lies somewhere between big-boned and lean ‘authentic’. The woodwind and brass playing is a delight, especially the high horns in the first movement of K456, the clarinets throughout K482, and a real dialogue between flute and bassoon in the latter’s slow movement. Imogen Cooper is scrupulous but her playing rarely, so to speak, lifts off the page. One good touch, paradoxically, is the way she keeps in the background when the strings repeat the woodwind’s melody in the Finale of K.482. 

The Verdict This is worth investigating if you want the particular coupling. Not a top recommendation, though: it’s rather heavy, and short on wit. Better bets would be Murray Perahia (Sony) or Mitsuko Uchida (Philips). Want More? The same artists have recorded Concertos Nos. 9 & 23 (Avie AV2100) and 24 & 25 (AV2175).