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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No.24 in c minor, K491 (with premiere recording of cadenza by Leopold Godowsky) [31:35]
Rondo in A, K386 [8:55]
Piano Concerto No.25 in C, K503 [32:08]
Alternative Hummel cadenza to K491 [3:34]
Valerie Tryon (piano)
London Symphony Orchestra/Robert Trory
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, 18-19 April, 2009. DDD
APR 5640 [76:13]

We seem to have missed this recording when it was released, to considerable acclaim, in 2009. The availability of APR recordings via Hyperion gives me the chance to make amends. The majority of releases on that label are refurbishments of classic 78s and early LPs but this is a new recording, made in 2009.
 
My benchmarks for these two concertos are:-
 
No.24 (K491)
•  Clifford Curzon; LSO/István Kertész: Decca Legends 4684912
•  Alfred Brendel; ASMF/Neville Marriner: Decca Duo 4422692 - see DL News 2012/24
•  Yevgeny Sudbin; Minnesota SO/Osmo Vänskä: BIS BIS-SACD-1978 - see DL News 2014/1
 
No.25 (K503)
•  Alfred Brendel; ASMF/Neville Marriner: Decca Duo 4425712 - see DL News 2012/24
•  Stephen Kovacevich; LSO/Colin Davis: Philips 4765316
 
For a historic account of the two concertos from Edwin Fischer and various orchestras on APR7303 (3 CDs, with Nos. 17, 20, 22 and Piano Sonatas K330, 331 and Haydn Piano Concerto in D, Hob.XIII/11) see DL News 2014/1 and for the two concertos on fortepiano and period instruments: BIS BIS-SACD-1894: Ronald Brautigam; Kölner Akademie/Michael Willens - see review and Download Roundup February 2012/2
 
That adds up to some pretty tough competition and, with the possible exception of the historic Fischer recordings for those who insist on modern sound and the Brautigam for haters of the fortepiano, they are unlikely to displease any listener. All but the two BIS recordings come at less than full price, too. So is the Valerie Tryon; LSO/Robert Trory combination good enough to add to the select list?
 
The answer is clearly in the affirmative. I can’t point to any dazzling enlightenment that dawned upon me after hearing the performances and made me view either of these concertos in a new light, except to wonder again why No.25 is not more popular. Rather they are of a kind with the Curzon recordings in presenting good, honest, straightforward and sympathetic solo playing, well supported by the orchestra and conductor. If there is a secret to performing Mozart’s piano concertos, especially the last half dozen or so, it surely lies in this kind of art that conceals art.
 
If the Godowsky cadenza - gloriously inauthentic - is too richly Romantic for you, though its difficulties hold no terrors for Valerie Tryon, it’s separately tracked and can easily be replaced by the Hummel which is presented as an alternative on the final track. If you download the recording and intend to make the Hummel your permanent replacement cadenza, you’ll need to re-number the tracks: do that carefully, having backed them up.
 
With the CD most players will allow you to re-programme the tracks - a facility that most classical music lovers probably employ only once in a blue moon and which some of the most expensive players omit. I wouldn’t, however, re-programme the Rondo, K386, which makes a pleasant interlude between the two concertos.
 
I listened to the CD-quality lossless flac download and to the mp3: both sound fine, with a small but clear advantage to the former; both formats come with the pdf booklet and at a small but worthwhile discount compared with the CD. The two BIS recordings come in 24-bit sound as well as SACD, mp3 and 16-bit lossless versions but there need be no reservations about the 16-bit CD quality of the APR recording.
 
The quality of this APR release makes me wonder why we don’t hear more of either the soloist or the conductor. Type her name into either of the MusicWeb International search engines and you’ll see that Valerie Tryon has made a handful of recordings for APR, Lyrita, Naxos and now Somm - I must try her Mendelssohn, also on APR and available from Hyperion - but this seems to be the late Robert Trory’s only available recording. Did I also mention that it comes at an attractive price? The download costs £6.99 in either format and the CD is available via Hyperion for £8.50 and at a similar price from other online suppliers.
 
Brian Wilson 

Masterwork Index: Concertos 24 & 25


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