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A Unique Recording on Authentic Instruments

This unique recording on authentic instruments includes the rarely heard Viennese piano that was likely used in Mozart’s time. The piano’s sound can best be described as a cross between a harpsichord and a piano, sometimes with the sound of a harp also comes to mind, owing to the plucked sound of the strings. The exact pianoforte used for the recording is a copy of a fortepiano built by the Viennese piano maker Anton Walter around 1785. The unique sound comes from the wooden hammer heads; it was not until about 1800 that pianos received leather covered hammers in Vienna.

Arthur Schoonderwoerd’s talent for music shines its brightest when he’s sitting behind an authentic 18thor 19thcentury keyboard. Schoonderwoerd received his training at the Utrecht Conservatory in the Netherlands and the Conservatoire Supérior de Musique in Paris with Jos van Immerseel.

Schoonderwoerd has specialized in the repertoire and performance practice of the 18thand 19thcenturies after graduating in 1995 summa cum laude. It is then, of course, no wonder that this remarkable pianist is in demand as soloist, chamber musician and accompanist.

This is probably one of the most authentic recordings of a Mozart piano concerto from the Vienna years, during which time Mozart performed and composed for the musical academies. For these events, Mozart not only composed the music, but also hired the musicians, rented the venue, etc. It was for these occasions that he composed 15 piano concertos. The Piano Concerto in E flat major KV 482 was finished in 1785, just days before it was premiered.

One drawback to this authentic performance is that this piano is noticeably softer and less sustained than a modern piano and is easily covered up by the orchestra. The third movement Allegro of the KV 482 is always so charming, with the cheerfully lilting 6/8 time signature. I love the sounds of the winds, especially the trumpets and horns, but in this recording they do outweigh the fragile sounds of this ancient piano.

The concertos are broken-up nicely withCh’io mio scordi di te?...Non temer, amato benKV 505. The late 18thcentury piano sounds particularly fitting in this recitative and aria, written specifically for the English soprano Nancy Storace and Mozart himself.

The two piano concertos complement one another splendidly. Most noticeably are the similarities between the second movement of the KV 482 and the main themes in the more tragic KV491.

The liner notes contain an error on the sixth page which lists the concertos as KV 236 and KV 248 in the heading, rather confusing for the reader. The text describing the works is well-written, informative and accurate.

The array of winds used in these concertos is invigorating. The tuning is also remarkable considering the instruments used. Ensemble Cristofori is based in Besançon, France, and directed by Schoonderwoerd. These concertos showcase the orchestra as much as the soloist and ensemble Cristofori rises to this challenge, playing with just as much vigour as the soloist. The group is well versed in the piano concertos of Mozart, Beethoven and Georg Wilhelm Gruber.

Wolfgang Amadeus MozartPiano Concerto no. 22 in E flat major KV 482 (Vienna, 1785)

Ch’io mio scordi di te?...Non temer, amato ben KV 505 (Vienna, 1786)

Piano Concerto no. 24 in C minor (Vienna 1786)

Arthur Schoonderwoerd, Piano

Accent ACC24313


Performance4 stars

Sound 3 stars

Melanie Garrett

Image:  Angel of the Annunciation from the Perugia Triptych by Fra Angelico (c. 1395-1455)

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Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 & 24