Monday, October 29, 2012

Mozart – Concertos for 3 and 2 Pianos – Eschenbach, Franz & Schmidt

   Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote two piano concertos for three and for two soloists, both in his early period, before he left Salzburg. First was Piano Concerto No. 7 in F major KV 242 for three pianos and orchestra, second was Piano Concerto No. 10 in E-flat major KV 365. It’s interesting, both were intended for playing by family connected soloists. Piano Concerto No. 7 has been commissioned by Countess Antonia Lodron who was looking for a concerto she was able to play with her two daughters Aloysia and Giuseppa. Mozart finished this concerto in February 1776, but there is also another version for two pianos – the one Mozart rearranged for his own performances in 1780. Piano Concerto No. 10 has been composed for performing by composer himself and his sister Nanerl.
   In whole collection of 27 Mozart’s Piano Concertos, these two sometimes are treated more as curiosity than the works of fully importance. But these are also brilliant, stylish compositions and interesting concert pieces for soloists and for orchestras, even if some parts are clearly showing the intention of creating the work for dilettante taking the first steps on public performances. Maybe both concertos are not the best parts of Mozart’s creative output, even if these works have some popularity, it’s a fact worth to remember. Maybe this is a kind of curiosity, maybe less ambitious works are more popular because of lacking doubtful passages. Maybe it’s just the fact three pianists together are consisting unusual view on philharmonic stage. Whatsoever the reason, these concertos are quite frequently played and recorded.

Eschenbach, Franz, Schmidt – Mozart’s Concertos Nos 7 and 10 (1982)

   Among many recordings of these concertos one is extraordinary as artistic achievement and very interesting as cultural project. This is album released by EMI in 1982 featuring London Philharmonic Orchestra and three German pianists – Christoph Eschenbach, Justus Frantz and Helmut Schmidt. The trio of soloists is as much perfect as it can be. Christoph Eschenbach conducting the orchestra is prominent personality of these renditions. He is multitalented and versatile musician; he’s excellent pianist as well as very good conductor. Eschenbech is great artist known for numerous achievements and various performances as solo and chamber pianist and as successful conductor of most complex symphonic works. Recordings of complete Mahler’s Symphonies he made with Orchestre de Paris in the Mahler’s anniversary years 2010 and 2011 are the perfect example of great artistic ideas and pure creative talent. As conductor and one of soloists Eschenbach joints creative approach with great respect to Mozart’s style. 
   Second person moving these performances is Justus Frantz, artist, teacher, professor in Hamburg Musikhochschule, television personality and well known personage of German music culture. He played many performances of music for two pianos with Christoph Eschenbach. There is strong connection between these two. Christoph Eschenbach was born in 1940 in Breslau (today Wrocław in Poland), Justus Frantz was born 1944 in Inowrocław (then Hohensalza), also in Poland – both born in bad moment and in unhappy places. Hard to say if it is only coincidence, or meaningful historical pattern, but their participation in musical life gives hope for overpassing old partitioning. The chances for cultural development are visible when politics are acting like artists. Even as nonprofessional pianist Helmut Schmidt shows real advance in musical culture. There were many politics playing musical instruments. One of best was Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, patriotic activist, statesman, composer and virtuoso famous all over the world. But there are still an army of minor politics playing instruments, writing poems and painting while devastating culture with their political decisions. This is why Helmut Schmidt has rightful place here although this blog definitely is not about politics.

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