Uchida Performs Mozart

Mitsuko Uchida Performs Mozart

W. A. Mozart kept a logbook of his compositions, and he made the following entries for these 2 compositions:

1. On March 2, 1786 a piano Concerto (K486)

2. On March 24, 1786, a piano concerto (K491)

The world has enjoyed these masterpieces for well over 200 years, and Ms. Uchida had recorded them before. I thought about the fact that Ms. Uchida was born 1948. As such, I wondered about the huge challenge that artists like her face to keep their performances fresh, new, and insightful for us, as listeners. Here we have Ms. Uchida, at age 61: It was around 20 years ago, that she recorded all of the Mozart Piano concerti with Dr. Tate, conducting the English Chamber Orchestra. What an accomplishment that was! And now, she’s a lot older, and how does one make a contribution to a music masterpiece that you, as a performer, have previously mastered?

In the K 488, Mozart decided to use a smaller group of supporting orchestra instruments. As such this composition is more intimate, and offers the piano a greater opportunity to stand out from the supporting cast. In the K. 491, however, Mozart used a much larger orchestra, likely for good reason, such as a patron’s celebration of some sort. He included pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets and horns, as well as a flute, strings, and Timpani.

Uchida is both the soloist and the conductor for these works. She expresses profound emotions that Mozart built into this music. Her tempi seem to be a touch slower, and the piano sings under her wonderful, delicate touch.

For me, the slow movements create a special feeling: There is an inescapable melancholy in the sublime Adagio of the K488 concerto; similarly the “Larghetto” of the K491, is very moving in Uchida’s interpretation. There is plenty of opportunity for Mozart’s happier romps in the other movements!

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