Berg and Mozart!

This CD clearly got my attention because of the interesting pairing of composers. Yet… they had something in common, although their music was written more than 200 years apart…

It turns out that the two pieces are more closely related than one might expect. Both include a group of 13 instruments (the Berg also includes solo piano and violin parts), and both refer to the same musical structures. Boulez and Uchida, two of the great musical artists of our time, meet and perform for this new recording. They previously collaborated on a recording of Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto paired with solo piano works by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern.

My intent was to study this CD for the Berg Chamber Concerto. This is a difficult piece, and I was looking for an interpretation that would help me understand it better. While I’m on my way toward that understanding, I have a ways to go… Few works are more challenging to play or to listen to than this Berg composition; but Boulez, Uchida and Tetzlaff, along with members of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, play the work with ease, communicating its extraordinary emotional range with a sense wit and irony. As I go on, I’ll discover more and more about this work…

I have never heard of Boulez performing Mozart, and I was in for a big surprise: Yes… I suspect that I liked it so much because of the quality of the players; however, these folks clearly had the leadership of one terrific musician in Boulez. The group presents the Gran Partita in a crisp, clean and energetic manner. Every instrument comes through during it’s solos, yet the music is completely unified. The tempi in Mozart’s Gran Partita are on the quick side but not exceptionally so. What is most impressive is the sense of structure. Mozart’s compositional form comes across with great clarity: the Adagio travels its sublime arc in one effortless sweep; the variations are also a model of clarity and charm; the Finale dances along to a joyous ending.

You might be surprised at the following: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto part 1:

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