Uchida’s Mozart

Mitsuko Uchida

I still own many of Mitsuko Uchida’s recordings of the Mozart piano concertos which she recorded 30 years ago with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Tate. Time moves on, and now we have some new recordings of these Mozart masterpieces as performed by Ms. Uchida, and this time with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Mitsuko Uchida began piano lessons at the age of three. A few years later, when she was twelve, her father was appointed ambassador to Austria. The family moved to Vienna where Uchida studied piano with Richard Hauser at the Hochschule für Musik. She made her debut at the age of fourteen with a recital in the Brahmssaal of the Musikverein, but her father made sure that she did not play much in public as a child. After completion of her studies at the Hochschule für Musik, Uchida won the International Beethoven Competition in Vienna, and gained second place in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. In the early 1970s she attended courses given by Stefan Askenase, Wilhelm Kempff and Nikita Magaloff.

The Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, is the stormier of Mozart’s two concertos written in a minor key. It is one of my great favorites. Anxious syncopation opens the first movement, setting the stage for its restless, stormy atmosphere. This powerful work made an astonishing impression on the young Beethoven. He wrote two cadenzas for this concerto, both of which Mitsuko Uchida plays on this live recording. I think it was this very concerto which caused Beethoven to say to his friend, Czerny: “You and I will never write music like that…”

Mozart’s final piano concerto, No. 27 in B Flat Major, was written for what turned out to be his last concert appearance, in March, 1791. This work is light, whimsical and not at all foreboding of Mozart’s imminent death. Mozart makes his most profound musical statement in the second movement Larghetto. Time seems to stand still as Uchida presents her interpretation of the captivating melody. It’s a simple statement of glorious beauty.

Here is Ms. Uchida, as she performs and conducts the Mozart’s Piano Concerto #20, 3rd movement, Rondo. This, however, is with the Salzburg Mozarteum orchestra:

Tags: Mitsuko Uchida, Mozart piano concertos, pianist, conductor, Cleveland Orchestra

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