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Mozart Concertos on period instruments

Piano Concertos Nos. 1-4 ‘Pasticci’ & 3 Piano Concertos K107
Symphony No. 14 in A major, K114
Malcolm Bilson (piano)
American Classical Orchestra, Thomas Crawford

Nimbus NI2579/80

I welcomed the contribution of Malcolm Bilson & John Eliot Gardiner to the revival of interest in hearing Mozart concertos on appropriate keyboard instruments, live in concert at St John's Smith Square, and on their famous Archiv recordings of now some twenty years ago:

- - for the piano concertos, in my book Malcolm Bilson has no peer in the huge Mozart discography. His recordings with John Eliot Gardiner (c.1990) are reissued in a no-nonsense compact box, 9 individual slip-cases with a very full 112 page fully illustrated booklet, with a wide range of essays by experts.

The particular virtue of these recordings is the true balance achieved by engineer Karl-August Naegler who does not attempt to disguise the quietness of the solo instruments (Walter/Belt and Walter/Adlam) as against the orchestra.*

Malcolm Bilson's set of the mature concertos was later supplemented by recordings with the American Classical Orchestra of seven more early concertos which had not been included (and now he's the one in large print!)... The earliest of them are the Pasticci K. 37-42, every movement stemming from a different work by another composer, compiled with close collaboration between the child Mozart and father Leopold.

They are charming and well worth having, here in a double CD, originally from MusicMasters 1993-94.

Documentation is excellent with everyone in Thomas Crawford's orchestra duly named for the record. Bilson plays a 1990 copy of a Schanz fortepiano, and a second disc includes the Symphony No 14 and three concertos K 107. The extensive essay (in very small print) is by Bart van Oort, who has been featured by Musical Pointers in important recordings of Beethoven and Mendelssohn etc.

Warmly recommended to everyone and essential for Mozart completists.

Peter Grahame Woolf

*Malcolm Bilson's Mozart concertos have been recently challenged by Viviana Sofronitsky for the Polish Dux label.