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  Eloquence -
  476 736-9
  Mozart: Clarinet, Piano Concertos - Prinz/Gulda/Abbado/Böhm
  Mozart: Clarinet Concerto, Piano Concerto No. 21

Alfred Prinz (clarinet)
Friedrich Gulda (piano)
Wiener Philharmoniker
Claudio Abbado (conductor)
Karl Böhm (Bohm)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 3

Review by Daland February 28, 2005 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The bargain-priced multi-channel version of the two Mozart concertos is well worth listening to. The disc features only two layers: a stereo CD layer and a multi-channel SACD layer. The sound is clear and focussed with discreet handling of the real channels. The solo instruments come fully into their own, with the piano slightly more recessed than the clarinet (which is perhaps inevitable given their size). I had expected the sound to be more diffuse, but in fact it is quite detailed and transparent. The tone of the strings, so crucial in Mozart, is warm and natural. These are classic recordings which need no advertising.
Admittedly, more recent recordings of the clarinet concerto (Fröst, Marriner) available on SACD offer much more impressive sound and a far greater tonal spectrum. As far as I know, no modern multi-channel recording of the Piano Concerto No. 21 has been released as yet. There is one in the pipeline or just out (O'Hara with the RPO), but this, too, is no genuine surround recording.

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Review by ramesh April 28, 2005 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is the second half of the review of this SACD. I have discussed the clarinet concerto in the context of the Pentatone SACD of the same with the Marriners.
Gulda is more renowned in the Germanic countries than elsewhere. I hadn't heard him on CD before. It is probably reasonable to assume many were astonished that in the 100 parts of the Philips 'Great Pianists' set that 2 entries were wasted on him, and 1 on Previn, to the exclusion of Annie Fischer, Berman and Sokolov. Yet, on the evidence of this performance, there is some justification in his inclusion, for I haven't heard a K467 more pianistically refined than this, and musically it is one of the finest, as well. Amazing then at its appearance on SACD, at budget price.
An old copy of a Penguin guide states he employs a Bösendorfer, as did Andras Schiff in his Decca cycle with Végh. ( The liner notes are nonexistent and hence don't confirm this. )The plummier, less high tensile sound of the Bösendorfer was quite evident in Schiff's discs that I heard, but it isn't as evident in the more distantly miked DGG recording, which is a nicely landscaped, middle of concert hall perspective. The concert Steinway seems close to ideal for luminous washes of passagework. However, one presumes Gulda's choice of both instrument and spacious tempi are deliberate.
For the entire performance, one is aware of his fine gradations of touch, but his evident taste and artistry prevent this becoming self conscious. He avoids the 'Elvira Madigan' effect of one diaphanous, blow-your-nose-into-super-soft-paper-tissues romantic effusion; Gulda in all movements is restrained but not reticent, except for the somewhat florid opening flourish at 2:32, and in the andante at 4:20, where the music in the dominant minor calls for emotional highlighting by ornamentation, anyhow. ( I never made it through the film. If studios are going to remake both this and 'Pretty Woman', it would be terrific if Julia Roberts was sent packing with theme song directly into the arthouse nonwonder. In reciprocity, having in 'Pretty Woman 2' a hooker or gigolo flouncing down Hollywood Boulevard to a Mozartean soundtrack would be a good thing; so too if Hugh Grant were prepared to swallow classical music without Divine intervention.) His trills are less high velocity, so the notes are clearly articulated, and in passagework, the semiquavers gleam like Vermeer painting a row of pearls, precise and crisp in articulation, but with wonderfully limpid tonal control, so it never sounds like a toccata. Both cadenzas are his, not particularly jazzy, pace his reputation.
His andante is contemplative but not ethereal. Comparative timings: Lipatti 1950, 7:14 ; Anda 1961 7:10 ; Gulda 1975 7:47 ; Perahia 1990 6:38 ; Istomin 1995 6:12. Unlike most performances of the andante, where the solo line blends and interleaves with the orchestra, Gulda's tempi and precise delineation of the piano part give it a cantabile quality where the line floats above the orchestra and not within it like a beating heart. It could have led to the solo line sounding marmoreal, but this high risk interpretation is so finely judged and executed it comes across as memorable and affecting, yes, even special.The only other performances I know which seem to aim for this effect are Schnabel and Lipatti, both in their very different ways and temperaments; yet, mention of these two other pianists gives some idea of Gulda's achievement. Throughout the work, Abbado and the VPO are sublime; if they had accompanied Anda, his performance would have been very difficult to top.
The sound is difficult to judge. It appears to be a multichannel adaptation of a stereo tape. There is no digital edge, and the recording is wonderfully transparent and mellifluous. However, it appears to be mildly bass shy, the plucked bass nevertheless clearly audible in the andante, but the lack of prominence to lower violas and cellos makes it sound like a recording, and not a complete picture. Nonetheless a small point. This SACD is so cheap, I would recommend everyone buy it, even at the risk of duplication.

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Review by akiralx July 12, 2005 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is something of a bargain - both very well known works which I have enjoyed a lot in these classic versions. The disc offers a SACD multichannel layer and a RBCD stereo layer.

Sonically the sound is spacious and warm, very natural within a pleasing acoustic, presumably the Musikverein. Rear channel signal is relatively modest but plays its part in securing the image. Wind solos emerge naturally from the orchestral fabric, with beautiful VPO string tone. The recordings certainly don't sound their age.

Intrepretatively, the clarinet concerto is warm and beguiling - here the solo part is played beautifully but it's Boehm's conducting that stays in the memory: unfussy, thoroughly Mozartean. I enjoy another version of this, Sabine Mayer's with Vonk on EMI, but this is at least as good, if slightly more old fashioned - which is not a criticism. The Adagio especially sounds wonderful here.

Gulda has long been my favourite pianist in Mozart (sample his K271 on Orfeo, K466 on DG, and K488 on Teldec - all superb) and this is also a fine performance, played I think on his trademark Bosendorfer piano. It has some bright overtones which sound pleasing though a little out of the ordinary.

As always Gulda's playing is crisply stylish with wonderful passage work and a great (and unusual) cadenza. One caveat I might have is that his playing of the slow movement is slightly too robust on occasions, regularly rising to mezzo-forte, louder than I have heard other paianists play it, such as Anda on DG (a superb version, on DG Originals RBCD). Like some other pianists Gulda ornaments the bare solo line with an improvisatory style that is really admirable and often compelling. The finale is predictably buoyant and brings the SACD to a rousing conclusion. Recommended.

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Works: 2  

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467