Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Monday, 07 October 2013 21:56

Album review: Anne-Marie McDermott and the Calder Quartet make a strong case for downsized Mozart concertos

Album review: Anne-Marie McDermott and the Calder Quartet make a strong case for downsized Mozart concertos
Written by Chuck Lavazzi
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Pianist Ann-Marie McDermott and the Calder Quartet with bassist David J. Grossman
Mozart: Piano Concertos K. 414, 415, 449

Bridge

Mozart piano concertos performed with a string quartet? Sounds crazy, no?

In fact, historical evidence seems to indicate that at least the first two concerti in this set were intended to be performed “a quattro” (with a string quartet) as well as with a full orchestra and optional winds. That’s probably true of the K. 449 concerto as well which, even though it was completed a year later, may very well have been started around the same time as the first two in 1782.

The logic behind this might have been economic to some extent. In Mozart’s time public concerts were not the common events they are today. Most music lovers learned about the latest works by playing them. And while only the wealthy could afford to assemble an orchestra, the expanding ranks of the bourgeoisie could easily manage to get together in their homes to play the latest music. If you were an amateur pianist, your circle of friends might not include a chamber orchestra, but it might easily include a string quartet.

Hearing these early concertos in such intimate arrangements certainly has its advantages. The musical structure is thrown in to high relief and the dramatic and even operatic quality of much of the writing is more evident. That’s especially true when the performances are as elegant, graceful, and sympathetic as the ones we get here from Ms. McDermott and the Calder Quartet (with the addition of Mr. Grossman for the K. 449).

As an Artist Member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Ms. McDermott might be expected to handle this material well, and so she does. This is wonderfully nuanced and supple playing which is, nevertheless, not lacking in drama when that’s called for (as it is in K. 449).

That’s equally true for the string players—both the quartet and Mr. Grossman. They seem to be the perfect performing partners for these concertos. After a while, I began to feel that a full orchestra might not, after all, be all that necessary for this music.

That said, I’m not sure a modern piano is the ideal instrument for concerti a quattro. Ms. McDermott and the string players are nicely balanced, but even so the piano sound feels a bit too robust. Mozart was likely writing for a five-octave fortepiano, which would have had a far more delicate sound and would, I think, blend better with the quartet.

Still, it’s a welcome release and highly recommended. Bridge seems to specialize in the unusual and rarely heard. You can find out more about their catalog at www.bridgerecords.com.

Upcoming Concerts

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight


Jah Orah and KD Assassin

Wed November 19

Durango

Sun October 26
Durango is a two-man band with a progressive, heavy rock sound. The band's latest album, "Technologigical Advances," is a concept album that is meant to be heard as a whole unit. To download a track from…

88.1 KDHX Shows

m-grill.jpg

KDHX Recommends

December
Friday
05

Roscoe Mitchell and Craig Taborn

An internationally known musician, composer and innovator, Roscoe Mitchell began his distinguished career in the spirited 1960s of Chicago. NYC pianist and ECM recording artist, Craig Taborn, has remained a ubiquitous presence on the...


December
Thursday
11

KDHX Discovery Series: History of Psychedelia

The KDHX Discovery Series presents the "History of Psychedelia," with DJ valis. KDHX DJ, valis will take you on a multimedia journey through the annals of psychedelic musical history. The evening will feature a...


December
Sunday
14

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holid...

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holid... 88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holiday Sing-along Sunday, December 14 at Noon. Tickets available online.  Toys, clothes, food and other gifts will be collected at the door for...


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Online Users

0 users and 11402 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook