Very Good DVD...except for Kocsis
JohnL | Alexander, NC United States | 02/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"All of these "Mozart on Tour" presentations have been transferred to DVD at long last. I highly recommend all of them, as they are quite informative and interesting. They provide a very nice glimpse into Mozart's world of extensive touring, performances, and personal life. Much of what is presented is based on the frequent letters written between father and son: Leopold and Wolfgang. Then, each documentary ends with a performance of W.A. Mozart's wonderful Concerti for Piano and Orchestra. All of the other performances on the other volumes I recommend highly, without reservation... with the exception of one of the two included on this DVD. I have no qualms whatsoever about Andre Previn's playing (and conducting from the keyboard) of K.491, the brooding C Minor Concerto (No.24). But alas, I cannot say the same about the other, K.488 in A Major (No.23). The soloist here is Zoltan Kocsis. In my opinion, he plays both the first and second movements much too fast. This is one of Mozart's arguably most beautiful of all concertos, and is meant to be enjoyed at a somewhat slower pace. It seems Kocsis is "off to the races", so-to-speak. He dispatches the first movement at a brisk 10 mins, 9 secs. Compare that to, for example, Murray Perahia's highly acclaimed recording (on CD), for which he was awarded the Rosette in the Penguin Guide. Perahia takes 11 mins, 36 secs. Then, the 2nd movement, one of my all-time favorite slow movements, in my opinion partly due to the added tonal color of the dual clarinets and wonderful woodwind writing, is played by Kocsis here more like the score was marked "Andante". But, it is not. This is one of the few times Mozart clearly marked it "Adagio", something he specifically pointed out to his father Leopold. Adagio literally means "slow", whereas Andante means "in moderate walking speed"... clearly a difference. So Mr. Kocsis rushes through this exquisitely sublime movement in record time: 6 mins, 6 secs. Perahia beautifully and poetically takes 7 mins, 25 secs... a very noticeable difference. Finally, Kocsis' pace in the last movement is remarkably SLOWER than Perahia, and most others I have heard. Perhaps he was tired after the first two, I don't know. I was disappointed, to say the least. If you are like me, then you know that Mozart should not be hurried through, especially his fantastic Piano Concertos. And of all of these Concerti, K.488 deserves the utmost handling and care, so as to bring out the many delights to meet the ears. For this reason alone, I rate this release 4 stars instead of 5. Otherwise, as mentioned, these "Mozart on Tour" presentations bring both visual and audible delights to fill our world with a very nice look into Mozart's personal world, and among other things, some of his most wonderful works: namely, his supreme combination of Piano and Orchestra."