album review

MOZART, Piano Concertos K. 503 & K. 466

MOZART: Piano Concertos K.503 & K.466

Martha Argerich, Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado

Deutsche Grammophon

There was no way to know, when these concertos were recorded at the Lucerne Festival in March 2013, that they would provide a coda to an artistic partnership that began in the 1960s. But Claudio Abbado’s death in January lends a valedictory aura to these performances, released a few months ago. Despite their long shared history, Abbado and Martha Argerich make for something of an odd couple, and you can hear the opposing aspects of their personalities play out in each concerto.

The magisterial C major Concerto, K. 503, is dominated by an elegance one associates with Abbado in the autumn of his career. Balances within the orchestra are exacting, the winds getting extra prominence. Anyone expecting the high-wire intensity for which Argerich is famous, and which she displayed in her 1978 Concertgebouw performance of this piece, will be surprised by the Apollonian restraint of her playing.

She is much more daring in the D minor Concerto, driving the tempos and pushing the music’s contrasts. Here, it is Abbado who seems to elicit a more volatile, Romantic account of the orchestra part than he might have otherwise. What’s common to both is the superb playing of the Bologna-based Orchestra Mozart and the effortless interplay between the two principals.


David Weininger can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @davidgweininger.