Friday, August 21, 2015

Géza Anda & Mozart

No. 208 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at

The debate over which is the best Mozart piano concerto cycle normally revolves around the following: Barenboim, Ashkenazy, Perahia and Brendel. In this short series, we sampled from two “complete cycles” so far – one by Mitzuko Uchida, and from the Perahia set. Today, I chose to share examples from another set, that of Hungarian pianist Géza Anda set down with the help of the Camerata Academica of the Salzburg Mozarteum, in sessions from 1961 and 1969.

The set, which I shared in a Chronique Du Disque from 2012, skips the three concertos for multiple keyboards. Anda was a thoughtful and scholarly Mozartian, and indeed, this ground-breaking series established standards for “modern” Mozart concerto interpretation, laying down a path that Brendel, Perahia, and to a lesser degree Schiff have pursued.

I have used tracks from this set in past montages, including the K. 467 concerto in a post where I provide more notes on Mr. Anda. The concerti I chose today to complete this four montage series are from the middle period – concertos 16, 18 and 19.

Mozart composed the Concerto No. 16 for performance at a series of concerts at the Vienna venues of the Trattnerhof and the Burgtheater in the first quarter of 1784, where he was himself the soloist. No. 18 is nicknamed “Paradis” in reference to Maria Theresia Paradis (1759 –1824), an Austrian pianist and composer who lost her sight at an early age, and for whom Mozart may have written this Piano Concerto. As was the case for the “Jeune Homme” concerto we sampled earlier, Mozart’s personal papers lead some scholars to attribute this to unsubstantiated folklore.

In a montage from a few years back, I played another Anda performance, this time of the concerto no. 25 in D Majorm nicknamed "Coronation". This comes from his playing of the work at the time of the coronation of Leopold II as Holy Roman Emperor in October 1790 in Frankfurt am Main. At the same concert, Mozart also played the Piano Concerto No. 19, K. 459. We know this because when Johann André of Offenbach published the first editions of both concertos in 1794, he identified them on their title pages as being performed on the occasion of Leopold's coronation. This is why concerto no. 19 is sometimes called the “second” coronation concerto.

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