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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Photo of Angela Hewitt by Bernd Eberle.
Track(s) taken from CDA67840
Recording details: December 2010
Das Kulturzentrum Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco, Italy
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Stephan Reh
Release date: October 2011
Total duration: 19 minutes 59 seconds

'It's easy to be captivated. Concertmaster Carlo Fabiano doesn't simply lead his forces mechanically; he gives meaning and expressive weight to the orchestration, Angela Hewitt the experience of valuable thought and feeling … [K271, Presto] In Hewitt's hands no artless dance; instead, something profound, as you'd expect of her, and get' (Gramophone)

'Judging from this first example, it's going to be a journey as revelatory as her exploration of all the major keyboard works of Bach. Hewitt is also a violinist and so brings elegant yet practical intuition to her direction; much of her keyboard articulation, for instance, imitates string-bowing. She is joined in this exciting new endeavour by the fleet-footed Orchestra da Camera di Mantova, who share her attention to stylistic detail. It's going to be a thrilling ride' (The Observer)

'Hewitt directs the performances from the keyboard; with the piano well forward of the orchestra in the sound picture, her playing is typically crisp … its attention to detail is immaculate. She contributes her own detailed sleeve notes, full of pertinent historical footnotes' (The Guardian)

'Hewitt is a spry Mozartian, and she infuses the players of the Orchestra da Camera di Mantova with lively spirit to match. Her playing is effortlessly nimble … her phrasing is actually finely balanced in ways that preserve the music from the threat of sounding like patter. And the sense of give-and-take between soloist and orchestra is first-rate' (The Irish Times)

'Some magical Mozart here from Angela Hewitt, who directs the Orchestra da Camera di Mantova with aplomb, zest, and most of all, style' (International Piano)

Piano Concerto No 6 in B flat major, K238
January 1776
first movement cadenza

Allegro aperto  [6'54]
Rondeau: Allegro  [7'04]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
When we refer to ‘piano’ concertos we must remember that most people in those days did not own a fortepiano, but rather a harpsichord, and in Salzburg in 1776 there were reportedly no fortepianos at all. So it was certainly on the harpsichord that Wolfgang, and also Nannerl, gave the first performances of his Concerto in B flat major, K238. It would have been the perfect vehicle for showing off the talents of the young players while providing entertainment for the public who attended concerts at court and in salons during carnival and Lent. Containing nothing too demanding on the listener, it nevertheless is completely captivating. I admit to having once considered the early concertos not very interesting, but having now taken this piece into my repertoire I have changed my mind completely.

Scored for keyboard, strings, two oboes and two horns, the first movement is marked Allegro aperto, an adjective that the young Mozart also used in various concertos for violin, flute and oboe. Literally translating as ‘open’ or ‘frank’, we are not sure of the exact meaning of this indication, but surely it denotes radiance and gaiety. There are no undercurrents, nothing ambiguous. In the middle section we do encounter some swirling arpeggios and broken octaves in minor mode, accompanied by plaintive intervals on the oboe, but the episode doesn’t last long. A light though rapid touch on the keyboard is necessary for the proper execution of this music and is not so easy to produce on the modern piano. Although Mozart left a twelve-bar cadenza, it is rather meagre to say the least, so I have written my own.

In the slow movement (Andante un poco adagio) the two oboes are replaced by two flutes to give it a sweeter, more gentle character. The music is simple, varied slightly on its return in a different key; yet I find in it a quality that seems to be the germ for the famous Andante of his C major Piano Concerto, K467, which he wrote some nine years later. There are obvious similarities: the use of a triplet accompaniment, muted strings, and a pizzicato bass. Already we get a glimpse at what became one of his strongest characteristics: the ability to switch between minor and major in a flash, providing a marvellous effect of chiaroscuro.

The Rondeau finale is pure dance music, with elegant rhythmic gestures from both orchestra and soloist. The flutes are dispensed with and the oboes return, but the real interest here is given to the horns, who have a chance to shine. It reminds me of something Mozart apparently said to his sister in 1764 at eight years of age. They were in London and their father was gravely ill and needed silence in the house. Unable thus to play the clavier, Wolfgang sat about composing his first symphony, and as he went along he told Nannerl to remind him ‘to give the horns something worthwhile to do’. Their joyful contributions add a lot of character to this finale. So does the middle section in G minor which is the one really virtuoso page of the concerto, requiring some very nimble Baroque-style fingerwork. The repeated broken octaves in the right hand remind me of François Couperin’s harpsichord piece Le Réveil-matin (‘The alarm clock’). The short cadenza in this case is Mozart’s own, although the Eingänge (brief cadenzas where the music stops on a pause) must be improvised by the performer. Something in the nature of this rondo theme prompted me to take it slightly under tempo for its final statement by the solo piano, thus giving time to ornament it more fully, before the orchestra regains the momentum. The end is unassuming, giving the last smile to the oboe.

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2011

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