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Tag: Mitsuko Uchida

Piano Concerto no. 9 – Mozart


   “Clown with Flowers (1963)

           Marc Chagall


                                with the greatest respect for all
                                     who read me, and especially 
                                         for those who are least 
                                             convincedthe way also, 
                                                 I note, to a conscious, 
                                                    and entirely personal,  

let me once again insist that my 
commentaries here are not at all
the last word on any of what I’ve 
discussed, they’ve been merely 
my opinion, according to my own 
particular aesthetic, my comments 
have been rather to excite curiosity
about, for some, an esoteric topic, 
to awaken interest in a field, to my 
mind, strewn with marvels, and 
never to dictate, art, as I often
remind, is in the eye of the 

I think of myself as company in 
an art gallery, viewing a 
succession of works, musical 
here, expressing notions, either 
specifically to do with the exhibit
or, personal, but somehow related, 
then moving on, just enough to 
whet the appetite, or, of course, 

here’s an instance

I’d been waiting for the sales clerk 
to box some fresh pasta for me I 
was buying at an eatery down the 
street when a line of piped in music 
from their overhead system swept 
me off my disconcerted feet, which 
I recognized to be Mozart, but as
I’d never heard him, ever

can you tell me who’s playing that,
I asked the cashier, many stores 
played their own tapes back then,
some still indeed even do, 
19-eighty, at that time, something

he replied, Mitsuko Uchida
what she’d done was to not stress
the bar line, the natural beat, to, 
in fact, eliminate it, so that a flight
of notes went on like an unfettered 
and iridescent miracle, prompted 
by its own irrepressible momentum,
I was flabbergasted

Beethoven later on would do that
nearly consistently

where Glenn Gould would remove 
his foot from the sustain pedal to 
channel Bach while he played 
Beethoven, an atavism, Mitsuko
Uchida was reversing the process
and using Beethoven‘s own 
unleashing of rhythms to shed 
light on her Classically otherwise 
bound Mozart, a telling 
anachronismI nearly screamed

here, in the event, is the next work 
of musical art in my idiosyncratic 
gallery, the richibi galleri, I call it, 
Mitsuko Uchida herself illuminating 
gloriously, as ever, Mozart, his 
splendid, as she reminds us, Piano
Concerto no 9 

thanks so much for stopping by


R ! chard

at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition – Daniel Kharitonov, ll‏

Daniel Kharitonov

Daniel Kharitonov


there ‘ve been extraordinary
performances since Maria Mazo‘s
defining reinvention of Mozart’s
21st Piano Concerto
, the “Elvira
Madigan”, at the XVth International
Tchaikovsky Competition
, worthy
of, believe me, fruitful commentary,
but for the sake of brevity and, of
course, indiscretion, I’ve refrained
from going on and on, and on,
about however many of them, all,
nevertheless, quite outstanding

but before even the end of Daniel
‘s final and deciding
performance, of Tchaikovsky’s
indomitable 1st Piano Concerto,
followed by whatever by Liszt,
he has, like Maria Mazo, here
given us a new standard for
hearing these indelible musical
epics, she takes over from
Mitsuko Uchida, goddess of
Mozart, he takes over from very
Van Cliburn, you’ve got to go
back to 1958 to have heard
this commanding thunder

Kharitonov is sixteen, a bud
becoming a flower

wow, no matter who wins


psst: his Liszt, incidentally, will
restore your faith in Liszt

at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition – Maria Mazo, ll‏

"Elvira Madigan"

a still from the movie “Elvira Madigan


there’s been a second round of
recitals, enough to make you
weary of sonatas, unless you’re
stalwart, devoted, primed

the prizes have been awarded,
the results posted at the site,
so that any mystery, excitement,
has been chilled, had you been
in any way excited about your

they certainly rained on my

by now most of my favourites
have gone down, others have
been perfunctory, to my mind,
but three, which surely I’ll
cover, but presently let me
start with Maria Mazo, a
wonder, who’d wowed me
earlier with her
transcendental Beethoven

here, with an orchestra, she
takes on a monument of the
20th Century, Mozart’s 21st
Piano Concerto, better known
since the mid-20th Century as
the theme to the movie,
Elvira Madigan, a forgotten
film now, however enchanting,
but this is where a generation
learned about Mozart

Maria Mazo sets the new
standard here, this is how
you’ll hear this concerto from
now on, it is magical, it is
mystical, it is extraordinary,
it’s right up there with the
greatest, who are presently
handing over to her our
musical reins

thank you, Mitsuko Uchida,
with the greatest admiration

strangely Maria Mazo didn’t
even place

who could ‘a’ ever thunk it


beat (Mozart Piano Concerto no 13 in C major, K 415)

it should be considered that even without tonalities
here – another word for “notes”, tonal divergences – 
just the rigorously held beat is enough for this riff 
to be called music
pretty impressive music at that
the reverse hasn’t always been true, is still not
for many, the history of Western music has been
the attempt to change that, to find music in the 
discordant ordinary, trust in an underlying cosmic
flow, melody even in tonalities devoid of any 
immediately recognizable rhythms 
hidden rhyme, where the beat of a verse obscures
the usual accent given to the last word of a line,
which usually sings thereby in conjunction with its
sister word at the end of a following one, performs 
in verse a similar function   
instances of hidden verse abound in for instance
     from “Sonnets from the Portuguese
            X. Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful …   
                        Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful indeed
                        And worthy of acceptation. Fire is bright,

                        Let temple burn, or flax; and equal light
                        Leaps in the flame from cedar-plank or weed:
                        And love is fire. And when I say at need
                        I love thee … mark! … I love thee—in thy sight
                        I stand transfigured, glorified aright,
                        With conscience of the new rays that proceed
                        Out of my face toward thine. There’s nothing low
                        In love, when love the lowest: meanest creatures
                        Who love God, God accepts while loving so.
                        And what I feel, across the inferior features
                        Of what I am, doth flash itself, and show
                        How that great work of Love enhances Nature’s.
                                                          Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
listen to Mitsuko Uchida blur the staunch rhythmic
line of Mozart’s 13th Piano Concerto delivering again
thereby absolute transcendence, Mozart himself
would’ve been, I’m sure, ultra wowed  

a couple of Mozart sonatas

if a symphony is a concerto without a soloist, a sonata
is a concerto without an orchestra, the soloist plays
alone, must deliver the same enchantment 
there are nevertheless always therefore the prerequisite
several movements, otherwise no sonata
the sonata, as we know it, originated in the mid-18th
century with more or less Mozart, earlier the term
applied to other structural notions in music
to still my consternation they were often not continuous,
movements were performed indiscriminately among other
eclectic acts in an evening of diverse entertainments, it
was Beethoven who put a decisive stop to that, though
the fame and popularity of Haydn and a few other
contemporaries, Clementi, Salieri, as well of course as
himself Mozart, had probably settled the matter for all
practical purposes somewhat earlier
Beethoven among his other theoretical principles codified
that, indeed wrote the book on it, like Moses delivering
the commandments, except that Beethoven presented
horizons in his mythology, miraculous and infinite,
instead of castigation and luxurious sin
his understanding of music, still now unsurpassed, is
demonstrable in his works through all the musical
innovations that have since, through all the very ages,
transpired, down to even his bagatelles, musical trifles,
which I’ll approach later, if you’ll stick around
but it starts essentially with Mozart 
Mitsuko Uchida, who is unsurpassed in Mozart, plays
Ludwig von Köchel, who catalogued finally, in 1862,
nearly a hundred years after Mozart’s death, in 1791,
the complete works of the master, other works have
been intermittently added since so that several
revised editions have dutifully followed, lettered a, b,
c according to the revision, the last Köchel number is 
Mozart’s music is sprightly, effervescent, magical, but
not especially intellectually challenging, I think of toy
soldiers and candy cane, innocence and a child’s delight
in the infinite possibilities of creation, Creation  
Alfred Brendel  who stands shoulder to shoulder with
the iconic Glenn Gould when it comes to Beethoven,
of 18 piano sonatas, the D major K.576 above, was
his last 
Brendel is too commanding to play authentic Mozart,
though his technique is irreproachable, admirable,
spotless, wonderful 
he is Beethoven playing Mozart however, an uneven
comparing the two interpretations is instructive, Brendel
will dazzle, inevitably, but Uchida will make you fly
don’t believe me, count on it 

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

despite not having the stature of the other composers
already considered, Felix Mendelssohn, 1809 – 1847,
nevertheless squeezes right up the middle with his
the greatest violin concertos of all time, perhaps the
most tender of all in contrast to the mightier, more
imperious declamations of the other also more varied
and prolific masters, an archangel among the august
divinities, having earned a place of the very highest
order in their midst with even this one masterful
work, perhaps even of all the most beloved
he squeezed right up the middle chronologically as
well in fact, Beethoven wrote his violin concerto in
1806, while Tchaikowsky and Brahms theirs to my
astonishment each from his own little corner of the
world independently in the very same year, 1878,
a fabulous year, it would appear, for violin concertos 
Mendelssohn finished his violin concerto in E minor,  
opus 64 in 1844
when I began a few decades ago to explore violin
concertos, my essential resource was the set I had
on disc of all the great ones played, indeed definitively
executed, by Kyung-Wha Chung, who bested then to
my mind all, without exception, even the most
celebrated virtuosos, whom I need not therefore 
here recall   
until now I had never seen her perform 
in this outing she recovers in spades my early adulation, 
utterly, she lives and breathes her enchanted instrument,
she is the Mitsuko Uchida of the violin, I can think of no
higher honour, she is meteoric 
André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra, who
accompany her, though accomplished, pale beside her
fire, which is throughout riveting   
André Previn was married famously to Mia Farrow way
back when, later married our very own Anne-Sophie
Mutter, though they divorced in 2006, he was a pop,
to my mind, conductor, made of serviceable and
always dependable stuff, but never shining, you’ll
have to leave that to his featured brilliant light here,
who will not, I assure you, fail to deliver searing
heat along with the stated incandescence 

piano concerto no 25, K.503, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart in our Western musical tradition is arguably the first
composer to write piano concertos, for two reasons, first
cause earlier there were no pianos, there were only
harpsichords, Bach wrote five wonderful concertos but for
the harpsichord 
secondly cause music was coming out of the shadow of the
Church in order to also cater to a more secular audience,
the monied aristocracy, who were looking for status through
art, personal portraits, music to make more illustrious their
already storied houses
Mozart is sprightly, unaffiliated, unopinionated, and
supremely talented, it was going to take a Beethoven to
make music more profound
meanwhile we have Mozart’s effervescent baubles, his
glistening, incandescent gems  
three movements
     1. allegro maestoso     
     2. andante    
     3. allegretto    
K is for KöchelLudwig von Köchel, the man who catalogued
Mozart’s works chronologically, of which there have been
accumulated after several revisions 626, none of which had
originally been given titles, though later sometimes
posthumously, for instance the “Jupiter” Symphony, his last,
no 41, K551  
no one plays Mozart like Mitsuko Uchida