Mozart: Piano Concertos

Nos 1– 4 Pasticcio Concertos
Ronald Brautigam fortepiano, Die Kölner Akademie, Michael Alexander Willens
58:34
BIS-2094 SACD

Once taken as early evidence of the 11-year-old Mozart’s prodigious compositional genius, these first four piano concertos are now recognised as cunning pastiches pieced together from chamber works by Hermann Friedrich Raupach, Leontzi Honauer, Johann Gottfried Eckard, C. P. E. Bach and Johann Schobert. To what extent this music was recycled into piano concertos by Mozart himself, or more likely substantially assisted by his father, is unclear but the results are very pleasing indeed. Orchestrated for the sort of generous band the Mozarts encountered on tour at this time which included flutes, oboes, horns and trumpets, these are important works in what used to be called the ‘pre-classical’ style – essentially the charming vocabulary of the Mannheim school. Playing a beautiful cherry-wood fortepiano by Paul McNulty after Stein 1788, Ronald Brautigam gives stunningly precise and expressive accounts of these works, ably supported by the Kölner Akademie directed by Michael Alexander Willens. In crystal clear recordings by the BIS engineers, this music comes vividly to life, and one can just picture the young Mozart, bewigged and liveried, raising gasps of wonderment and admiration for his aristocratic audiences. I was struck by the imaginative richness of composers who have largely fallen from public attention and who we can definitely say influenced Mozart’s compositional style. I was also impressed by the smooth recycling process which produced four very fine concertos, which you would never guess were anything other than original compositions. The fact that until recently they were believed to be such is a great testimony to the work of the Mozarts.

D. James Ross