Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466; Piano Sonatas, K. 281 & 332 Seong-Jin Cho, Chamber Orchestra Of Europe & Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Cover Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466; Piano Sonatas, K. 281 & 332

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  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791): Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466:
  • 1Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466: 1. Allegro (Cadenza by Beethoven)14:09
  • 2Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466: 2. Romance08:59
  • 3Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466: 3. Allegro assai (Cadenza by Beethoven)07:50
  • Piano Sonata No. 3 in B-Flat Major, K. 281:
  • 4Piano Sonata No. 3 in B-Flat Major, K. 281: 1. Allegro04:27
  • 5Piano Sonata No. 3 in B-Flat Major, K. 281: 2. Andante amoroso04:45
  • 6Piano Sonata No. 3 in B-Flat Major, K. 281: 3. Rondo (Allegro)04:31
  • Piano Sonata No. 12 in F Major, K. 332:
  • 7Piano Sonata No. 12 in F Major, K. 332: 1. Allegro07:02
  • 8Piano Sonata No. 12 in F Major, K. 332: 2. Adagio05:05
  • 9Piano Sonata No. 12 in F Major, K. 332: 3. Allegro assai06:58
  • Fantasia in D Minor, K. 397:
  • 10Fantasia in D Minor, K. 39705:36
  • Total Runtime01:09:22

Info zu Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466; Piano Sonatas, K. 281 & 332

Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho’s to release his new album "Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 and Sonatas".

Piano concertos, designed to please a paying audience, were part of Mozart’s daily business yet he lifted the genre high above anything that had gone before; so high that he effectively invented it in the form we know today. His mature piano concertos – famously difficult to bring to life in performance – stand among the supreme tests of a performer’s powers. Seong-Jin Cho has chosen one of the most demanding of the composer’s works for keyboard and orchestra, the Piano Concerto in D minor K466, to launch his first Mozart recording for Deutsche Grammophon. The Korean pianist’s latest album, which also includes the dramatic Piano Sonata in F major K332, the early Piano Sonata in B flat major K281, and the Fantasia in D minor K397, bears witness to a musical love affair that began in childhood and has deepened since he won the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw three years ago.

Seong-Jin Cho is fortunate that his earliest memories of Mozart were fixed by his parents’ recordings of two of the composer’s greatest operas: The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute. They opened the young musician’s heart to Mozart’s singing line, with all its light and shade, pathos and humour, wit and wisdom. The music’s apparently limitless compassion continues to resonate with Cho. “When I play, I try to play with my heart, sincerely,” he observes. “I try to convey my feelings and emotion – I’ve always tried to tell a story to the audience.” Mozart, he adds, is the ideal story-telling composer. “His music is always closely related to singing and opera; very often the melodic line has to be rather like bel canto.”

Bel canto – the art of “beautiful singing” – places a premium on good taste, on knowing when to give free rein to certain emotions and when to resist overstating others. Seong-Jin Cho’s Mozart arises from such fine judgements of expression. His interpretation of the Piano Concerto in D minor, charged with expressive freedom and formal clarity, is above all concerned with the work’s complex emotional world. “For me, Mozart has everything: his music has so many layers,” he says. “When I listen to him I can feel all kinds of human emotions. For example, there are some parts of the D minor Concerto’s third movement where he uses the minor key, but then he turns to major notes and it gives such a different feeling: it’s as if he’s toying with the emotions. It’s genius.”

Although the autograph manuscript of the D minor Piano Concerto is undated, Mozart marked its completion in his catalogue of works on February 10, 1785. On the same day, his father arrived in Vienna to spend time with his son and daughter-in-law. Leopold Mozart noted in a letter how the orchestral parts were still being copied when he arrived, just hours before the junior Mozart was due to give the first performance. “The concert was magnificent and the orchestra played splendidly,” he wrote to his daughter. So much of the drama of the D minor Concerto comes from the dialogue between orchestra and soloist, and Seong-Jin Cho found the ideal recording partners in the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and its frequent guest conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

“I met Yannick in 2017 when I went to Baden-Baden to hear him conduct the COE in La clemenza di Tito,” the pianist recalls. He immediately felt at home with Nézet-Séguin’s rich interpretation, captivated by its myriad colours and characterizations. Orchestra and conductor returned to Baden-Baden’s Festspielhaus this summer to record Mozart with Cho. “Yannick is such a good accompanist when he conducts opera that I knew he’d be a good accompanist for a pianist too – and I was right. He’s such a sensitive musician that he reacts very quickly if, for example, I play rubato and take a little more time over a phrase. While we were recording he suggested a number of ideas that really inspired me.” The COE’s playing, generous in its big gestures and flavoured with subtle nuances of articulation and expression, supported Cho’s lyrical approach to the score. “The details are very important, aspects such as dynamics, phrasing, slurs, staccato, these types of articulation.”

Seong-Jin Cho’s reading of the D minor Concerto navigates the stormy emotions of its first movement, the romantic introspection of its central Romance, and its life-affirming happy ending. “You have to play it like a singer, so you have to breathe! You can’t play it too strictly, because Mozart’s music always has to sing!”

Striking contrasts and quicksilver changes of mood dictate the emotional weather of Mozart’s Sonata in F major K332. The work, written in Vienna during the second half of 1783, is crowned by one of the late 18th century’s greatest keyboard showpieces, a dashing finale based on at least six thematic ideas and marked by sudden shifts between major and minor. Cho singles out the slow movement as “particularly interesting, because Mozart wrote his own ornamentation in the score as an alternative option, giving us a clear insight into his thinking about ornamentation generally. So, when we play Mozart and something’s repeated, which happens very often, I think we have to incorporate some sort of ornamentation, in order to show the music in a new light.”

The pianist found the ideal foil to the F major work in what he describes as the “joyful” Sonata in B flat major K281, a charming product of Mozart’s late teens inspired by the music of Haydn. Its central Andante amoroso, with its floating melody and delicate grace notes, could easily be reworked as an operatic aria.

The Fantasia in D minor, recorded as a bonus track for the digital and LP versions of the album, conjures up an even stronger evocation of opera, especially in its central Adagio section. As Cho notes, it explores the breadth of Mozart’s expressive universe. “Many ideas in this piece seem orchestral to me. This is, I think, a very good example of a fantasia – it doesn’t make sense to play it in a single tempo. It has to move and change.”

Seong-Jin Cho, piano
Chamber Orchestra Of Europe
Yannick Nezet-Seguin, conductor

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Booklet für Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466; Piano Sonatas, K. 281 & 332

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