Mozart - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. © 2023 Chandos Records Ltd

CD Spotlight

Lyrical Beauty

GERALD FENECH strongly recommends recordings of Mozart Piano Concertos Nos 24 and 25

'Jean-Efflam Bavouzet despatches these two masterpieces with remarkable dexterity, and his playing ... is intense, powerful and spontaneously virtuosic ...'


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) composed his 24th Piano Concerto in C minor in the winter of 1785-86 during his fourth season in Vienna. Composition was finished shortly before the premiere of his comic opera The Marriage of Figaro, and although written at the same time, the two works contrast greatly: the opera is almost entirely in major keys while the concerto is one of Mozart's few minor-key works. The pianist and musicologist Robert D Levin suggests that the concerto, along with Nos 22 and 23, may have served as an outlet for a darker aspect of Mozart's creativity at the time he was composing Le Nozze di Figaro. The work is one of Mozart's most advanced compositions in the genre and among its early admirers one finds Beethoven and Brahms.

Composed for the largest array of instruments, the concerto comprises an opening Allegro in sonata form and is longer than any first movement of Mozart's earlier concertos.

Listen — Mozart: Allegro (Piano Concerto No 24)
(CHAN 20192 track 2, 0:00-0:46) ℗ 2023 Chandos Records Ltd :

The Larghetto is in E flat and features a strikingly simple principal theme.

Listen — Mozart: Larghetto (Piano Concerto No 24)
(CHAN 20192 track 3, 0:00-0:58) ℗ 2023 Chandos Records Ltd :

The final Allegretto is a theme and eight variations full of dazzling virtuosity.

The premiere of the concerto was on either 3 or 7 April 1786 at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Mozart featured as both the soloist and conductor. The piece was a huge success, and after Beethoven heard the work in rehearsal he reportedly remarked to a colleague: 'We shall never be able to do anything like that'. Brahms also admired the concerto and he referred to the work as a 'masterpiece of art and full of inspired ideas'. No wonder Mozart's 24th Piano Concerto is considered as one of his greatest.

The Piano Concerto No 25 in C was composed in December 1786, and it is considered high on the list for its sublime integration of the composer's manifold gifts. The opening is marked Maestoso, but numerous other qualities beyond mere majesty are soon apparent. The swings to the minor mode bring twinges of uncertainty and hesitation to the otherwise heroic scenarios being depicted, albeit wordlessly. Ample use of the wind instruments reminds us of Mozart's amazing gift for orchestration, and he left no cadenza for this movement, which allows the soloist to choose one by another performer or to prepare one of his own.

Listen — Mozart: Cadenza - Allegro maestoso (Piano Concerto No 25)
(CHAN 20192 track 5, 14:11-15:11) ℗ 2023 Chandos Records Ltd :

The second movement is full of contrasting elements, and with its eloquence it is the centrepiece of the concerto; an oasis of calm reflection in which the extreme registers of the piano are explored and exploited.

The finale begins with a full statement of themes by the orchestra. In other concertos Mozart was inspired to interrupt a movement with a simple minuet. In this finale he resists this temptation but supplies plenty of pomp to round off the work's grand conception.

Listen — Mozart: Allegretto (Piano Concerto No 25)
(CHAN 20192 track 7, 7:52-8:50) ℗ 2023 Chandos Records Ltd :

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet despatches these two masterpieces with remarkable dexterity, and his playing, as in the previous volumes of this cycle, is intense, powerful and spontaneously virtuosic with a dynamic approach that brings out all the lyrical beauty of Mozart's eternal creations. Gábor Takács-Nagy and his Manchester Camerata give impressive support. A superb seventh volume in this cycle which also includes a sprightly version of the Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro. Strongly recommended - the whole series at that. Sound and booklet notes are first rate.

Copyright © 19 April 2023 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta



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