Britten on Record: Mozart: Piano Concerto no.12 in A major, K414 (Decca)
Aldeburgh Festival Orchestra / Benjamin Britten (piano)
Live recording: Aldeburgh Festival – Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, 19 June 1956
Background and Critical Reception
Mozart’s twelfth published piano concerto is one of the earliest to hold down a relatively regular place in the repertory. This is possibly on account of its flexibility, for the piece can be performed either with a full orchestra or with reduced forces of a string quartet only.
Not surprisingly Britten opts for the former in this recording from the 1956 Aldeburgh Festival, which appeared in the same Jubilee Hall concert as the Haydn symphonies nos. 45 and 55 appraised just recently.
Britten’s special affinity with the music of Mozart is once again in evidence here. The whole reading is fresh and very well poised, enjoying Mozart’s melodic invention but also keeping the orchestra light on its feet, with even the most routine bass string parts enjoying a nice bit of lift.
Britten is clearly enjoying himself in the first movement cadenza, if the cascade of right hand notes is anything to go by, while the slow movement has a quite luxurious sheen in the strings. The finale is crisp and bright, the piano’s first statement rocking persuasively between right and left hand figurations.
The sound is pretty good here, too, probably superior to the two Haydn symphony offerings.
Not available on Spotify
Also recorded in 1956: Verdi – Il Trovatore (Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan / Herbert von Karajan) (Naxos)
Next up: Schubert – Fantasy in C major for violin and piano