On Friday April 8th, 2022 the celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes released his latest album titled “Mozart Momentum 1786.” This is the second volume of a series of recordings that Ove Andsnes has recorded with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra that focuses on the years 1785 and 1786 in Mozart’s life.
The two CD’s in this volume consist of Mozart’s Piano Concertos numbers 23 in A major K.488 and 24 in C Minor K.491, as well as Mozart’s Piano Quartet no 2 in E flat K.493, and his Piano Trio no. 3 in B flat K.502. As an added bonus there is a beautiful performance of Mozart “Ch’io Mi scordi di te” for soprano and orchestra with piano obbligato as well on this recording.
For Ove Andsnes the years 1785 and 1786 are pivotal in Mozart’s lifetime. “I feel that there is something radical happening in 1785 and 1786…we get to the beginning of 1785 where he writes his first piano concerto in a minor key…the D minor no. 20… he starts the concerto with very restless, dramatic music in the orchestra, and then when the soloist comes in, it’s with completely different material…material we have not heard the orchestra present, and that was very new… that was a revolution, nobody had done that in a piano concerto before.”
Mozart continues this compositional device in the following concertos. “He (Mozart) creates a whole new sort of psychological drama in the genre…it expands the story telling in a way, which was very new.”
Once again, Ove Andsnes has teamed up with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) to record the Piano Concertos no. 23 and 24. Ove Andsnes has recorded all of the Beethoven Piano concertos with the MCO, as well as the Mozart’s piano Concertos no 20 and 21.
Formed in 1997 the Mahler Chamber Orchestra consists of 45 musicians from 20 different nations. It was founded by Claudio Abbado with one of the main tenets of the ensemble being combining the principles of artistic curiosity with the broadest possible spectrum of repertoire performed at the highest possible musical level. The MCO has a rather nomadic existence, rehearsing and performing all over Europe.
“For me they are a very special ensemble. There is a devotion from them and an attitude… they want to get to the core and the truth of the music. They are there because they want to make something special in each project,” states Ove Andsnes. “They have the ability to do everything and I find when I work with them they delight me and surprise me…I adore this ensemble”
For Ove Andsnes, Mozart’s piano concertos are full of conversation between pianist and orchestra. One of the things that Ove Andsnes does to enhance this idea of conversation is that the performances and the recording were done with the lid off the piano, and the musicians of the MCO around him. His back is actually facing the audience, while he is playing and leading the orchestra. “I see and hear the musicians of the orchestra so well, and they hear me, and that intimacy, I think helps in this music. It helps the dialogue and the conversation of the music.”
Mozart wrote two piano quartets, and they were both written in the years 1785 and 1786. The 2nd piano quartet in E flat Ove Andsnes argues that there is a mini piano concerto quality to this music. “They are sometimes wonderfully symphonic in sound…there is a breadth to them and generosity… and then there are long passages of piano solo like you would have in a piano concerto, and then strings would answer, like in an orchestra tutti.”
With Mozart Momentum 1786 Leif Ove Andsnes has successfully painted a very clear picture of what Mozart composed in the years 1786. All of the works on this amazing two CD set show how the influence of Mozart’s operatic output (he was working on The Marriage of Figaro in 1786) influenced his instrumental compositions.
For any lover of Mozart this CD is a must have! Leif Ove Andsnes’s interpretations are exquisite, and the partnership with the MCO and him are nothing short of perfection. This is really a very special two CD set.