Philharmonia/Mackerras Piotr Anderszewski

La clemenza di Tito – Overture
Piano Concerto No.17 in G, K453
Symphony No.4

Piotr Anderszewski (piano)

Sarah Fox (soprano)

Philharmonia Orchestra
Sir Charles Mackerras

Reviewed by: Edward Clark

Reviewed: 16 February, 2006
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

What a concert! The overture to Mozart’s final opera (one which Sir Charles Mackerras has recently recorded) was most beautifully played in response to the conductor’s natural feel for the flexible interweaving of moods and tempos contained in this exhilarating prelude.

Piotr Anderszewski is building a reputation as one of the most spontaneous pianists of his generation. Certainly his playing of Mozart, in this one of his most loveable concertos, was a joy – an unforced style that evoked the childlike wonder that lies behind the sophistication of this glorious work.

Mackerras was a sympathetic partner allowing the orchestral musicians to contribute numerous felicities. The heart of this performance was the slow movement where time seemed to stand still with magical pauses conjuring a spell of self-reflection from both musicians and audience. It was a truly wondrous view of a simple but profound aspect of Mozart’s art.

Mackerras conducted baton-less throughout the concert and his method in Mahler was to guide the players rather than control them with a rigid beat. The Fourth Symphony is, in many ways, the most interesting of Mahler’s entire cycle in that so many attractive features and manifest joys can be extracted from this magical work. This performance was inspired and interesting.

Setting off at a no-nonsense, fastish speed, Mackerras’s appreciation of the numerous changes of tempos was a miracle of refined music-making that enhanced the rustic joys of the first movement. What impressed so much was the innate humanity of this music that in other hands can come across as insincere. Numerous details were bought out in the music, not least gurgling bassoons, clarinets suggestive of birds, and flutes that effortlessly floated above the general melee.

Each movement received wonderful care for the sentiment that lies behind the notes; the slow movement in particular was of a poise and serenity that was truly touching. The singing of Sarah Fox in the finale embellished the entire sense of naturalness that was enshrined in this memorable rendition, a triumph for the partnership of the Philharmonia Orchestra, on riveting form, and the venerable Mackerras.

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