The Ultimate Union of Beauty - Mozart, Uchida & Tate
K. D. Cooper | Adelaide, South Australia | 06/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With Mozart being one of my major life supports, I have been very particular about who interprets, as Einstein calls it: The Synthesis - The Piano Concerto. I have difficulty in expressing myself, but I can only say that music, being the vehicle to produce joy, sadness, anguish, and peace, unless these treasures are beautifully done, they leave you nowhere. This union takes me to Elysium. PS: Ms Uchida's cadenza to the C minor K491 is brilliant!"
Uchida, authority of Mozart piano, in monumental performance
M. Berz | DeWitt, Mi USA | 11/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many have said that Mitsuko Uchida has all elements of being the leading Mozart pianist of our days, and perhaps of all days yet. Japanese subtlety with its sense for the seemingly small, paired with secure female intuition as well as a light and flawless technique and utterly good taste, combine to one of the great treasures of current classical music: Uchida's Mozart. For the concertos, she has teemed up with Jeffrey Tate's light, fresh and airy style, which provides the perfect partnership for her own style. Very few other performer/composer combinations are so utterly convincing and produce such pearls of the classical repertoire. To mind come only Arrau's Beethoven and Liszt (but not quite his Mozart, although it is intriguing in other ways and the comparison to the very different Uchida view is highly rewarding), Mutter's romantic violin concertos, young American prodigy Hilary Hahn's solo Bach, as well as Yo-Yo Ma's universally good cello. All in all: a set that, together with Mozart's piano sonatas by Uchida, no serious classical listener must miss."
Perahia or Uchida for all the Mozart concertos?
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 03/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Note: in this review I refer to Uchida's Mozart as a bargain set. I am referring to a later reissue than the one pictured here. Her performances are also available in a series of bargain two-fers.
Murray Perahia was quite a young man when he started his cycle as both pianist and conductor in the Mozart concertos. He was followed by another superb Mozartean, Mitsuko Uchida, whose cycle on Philips features the same English Chamber Orchestra, so I thought it might be worthwhile to compare the two.
Perahia: Perahia is a thougtful, self-effacing, and highly musical pianist. He was at his most extroverted in these works, thereby escaping any tendency to make Mozart sound precious or dainty. Although he had never conducted a recording before, he also proved a vigorous leader from the keyboard (not exceeding Bernstein in this dual role, but Bernstein only made a handful of concerto recordings). The orchestral accompaniments are vivacious, if a bit straightforward. Perahia saves his musical insights for the keyboard in large part, and here he excels. His interpretations are flawless, full of invention. The recorded sound, especially in early installments, can be rough, however, resulting in a somewhat shallow, bright, and brittle piano. As listed here at Amazon there is an enormous price difference (2-to-1 or more) between Perahia's 12-disc set and Uchida's 9-disc one, but at other retailers and on the used market both can be bought very cheaply.
Uchida: From the rapturous reviews below, you would think Perahia has no rivals in this music. He does, of course, in Clifford Curzon, Clara Haskil, Rudolf Serkin (though not the late, enfeebled recordings on DG), and Uchida herself, to mention only a few. Uchida first made her mark by recording the complete Mozart sonatas. Here she is joined by a talented ocnductor, Jeffrey Tate, who may be a deciding factor for some buyers since his accompaniments are more polished and detailed than Perahia's. Philips also gives the ECO and the piano better sound, with more warmth and depth than we hear from Perahia. As an itnerpreter, Uchida is more studied--her phrasing can be affected compared to Perahia's--but in general she is to the manner born. This is immpeccable playing, and her ability to shape a lyrical phrase bows to no one. Uchida's complete cycle sells for under $65 at Amazon and much cheaper than that on the used market.
I found while collecting these great works that both Uchida and Perahia were completely satisfying--modern and fresh without resorting to period-performance mannerisms--and on any given day I liked one as much as the other. However, the advantage of having a good conductor and better sound is undeniably in Uchida's favor, while Perahia's more natural, extroverted style gives him an advantage. We are fortunate to have two compellling cycles at mid-price.