Mozart Piano Concerto 21.

I'm looking for Mozart Piano Concerto #21. Which ones are worth owning?

thanks in advance
For #21 you can't go wrong with Murray Perahia. He has recorded it more than once. Try the one with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe with him conducting from the piano. It is on Sony Classical SK46485
(Comes with Concerto #27)

On LP record look for the one on Columbia Records with the English Chamber Orchestra. Album number M34562

Try Andras Schiff and Alfred Brendel!
Good luck!
In addition to the three fine recordings mentioned above,consider the George Szell-Cleveland Orchestra recording and the Academy of St. Martains in the Fields Orchestra with Clifford Cuzon.
My personal favorite is the Cleveland but that's subjective.
I strongly recommend Dinu Lipatti/Lucerne Festival Orch./Karajan (live & fascinating -- mono recording!) and...
Rob. Casadesus/Columbia SO/G. Szell,
both on Sony (the latter a 3cd box comprising 21-24 + 26-27 et alia). My taste also tallies with Sugar's re: Perahia. The Perahia version I particularly like is with the English Chamber Orch, part of a recording of the complete piano concerti.
I will ditto the Curzon recording. Curzon is my favorite Mozartian pianist. But the recording I have is with Kubelik and the Barvarian Radio Symphony. I did not recommended it figuring the Perahia with modern CD sound would appeal more to audiophiles. I am a music lover first and I care about the performance 99%. The high end audio just makes it sound as good as possible.

For Schiff I hope it is newer recording. I never thought Schiff had "got it" as far as Mozart when he was young. I found his early attempts at Mozart competent but unremarkable, including the time I heard him at Tanglewood years ago. I do find as he has matured, his Mozart has matured as well!

Sugar, I share your reservations with Sciff. There are 1991/92? Schiff/Camerata Academica of Salzburg Mozarteum /Vegh recordings of a number of concerti. Technically sound, they didn't transport me musically (I haven't heard the 21 in this version).
Istonin on Reference Recordings is another alternative to the wonderful suggestions made.
I also own the Lipatti, which also has a nice performance of the Schumann concerto. I don't mean to knock Schiff too hard. I do like his Bach interpretations.
Curzon with Kubelik, thats the one.
Artur Schnabel, London Sym. Orch, sargent cond.
masterful, artful playing. question about it!...second option Curzon...
At the risk of sounding out of touch, what is the panel's opinion on Vladimir Ashkenazy's recordings on Decca ? The recording is not perfect (early digital), but I really like his flair. Am I missing something ? I'm no classical buff, but it sounds like a good performance to me.
This is not an easy question to answer. It is so subjective. Besides the "quality" of the performance and the sonic quality of the recording, there is the matter of modern vs. "original" instruments.

Many of the recordings mentioned above are on modern instruments with modern-sized orchestras. To that list, I would add:

Maria João Pires. Chamber Orchestra of Europe, cond. Claudio Abbado (DG, 1995)

For recordings using "original" instruments, etc., the definitive recordings (in my opinion) are by Malcolm Bilson, who has issues the entire cycle on CD. For No. 21, see:

Malcolm Bilson. English Baroque Soloists, cond. Gardiner (Archiv, 1987).
The Bilson "original instrument performance on Archive is excellent. I have his whole set and it is a must listen for anyone interested in Mozart.
Brendel/Mackerras/Scottish Orchestra, perform spectatular concerti. Macherras' conducting is outstanding!! Don't think they recorded #21. But check out #25, my favorite. I perfer these recordings vs the Uchida/Tate/English Orchestra.
Well i prefer Uchida over Brendel, but prefer Mackerras vs Tate. Brendel's playing lacks a gusto that is necessary for Mozart. Even Uchida takes it alittle too easy on the keyboard. Mackerras' conducting of Mozart with the Scottish C. O. is spectactular. As well Mackerras conducts the Prague C. O. with genius on the Symphonies. Though i like Walter/Columbia S. O. , the Mackerras are essential to own.
Mikhail Pletnev is tackling the Mozart repetoire. So far, he's done 9, 20, 23, 24. His pianism is stunning and his grace is astonishing.
andreas staier and concerto koln. an interesting angle on mozart. an "authentic" group focused on the music. beautiful results.
the 1st I heard is still my touchstone: the George Szell-Cleveland Orchestra as recommended by Pragmatist above. I had to pull my car to the side of the road to hear it finish when some NPR dj played it on the air 20+ years ago. I've searched and found many great versions since, but that stands as an incredible performance.
Michelangeli!!! with santa cecilia orchestra. One of the best mozart pno concerto recordings, pianist and orchestra. It is a very integrated performance where the orchestra doesn't sound like a "vehicle" for the soloist. One of the best Italian mozarts and probably my favorite overall.
Pletnev,Ashkanazy,Anda,Barenboim,Fischer, these guys attempting conducting/piano, are the worst recordings in the catalogue. There is nothing satisfying about any of these recordings. The orchestras all sound way off,and either they are playing ahead or behind the orchestra at all times.??!! GooffY! Mozart intended that a conductor be present, and seems that's the only way they'll work. The obscure pianists on the Point Classic and Lazer Light labels are much much better performances than these "stars". And this principle applies to Oistrakh's recording of Mozart's violin concerti. Though he's my all-time favorite violinist, you could not even give me his EMI recordings.
tweekerman, you couldn't pay me to listen to any of his recordings.
Buxter66, I'm not sure if you are actually saying that you don't care much for Oistrakh's style???!! You just can't be saying that? Oistrakh is known as a legend in all musical circles throughtout the world. On which recording of his did you get a bad taste? Do you prefer Heiftz? That's ok with me. How about Hillary Hahn? Back to Cdollars question, I really don't have a favorite on #21. Now on #'s 14,23,25 Moravec on Supraphon, and 20,23,24,25 again Moravec on Decca. ..Include the new Virgin recording of Piotr Anderszewski's piano/conducting of Mozart in the "least satisfying pile".

I'm with you with respect to Oistrakh, particularly his non-Mozart canon. As for Pletnev, I hope you're not broadly castigating him. As a conductor, yes I agree, and I'm thrilled that he's largely giving that up. As a pianist, I think he's the greatest thing since Emil Gilels.
Not refering to Pletnev as pianist, he spectatularly peforms Rachmaninov's P.C.#1 and the Rhapsody on a Theme Of Paganini, as well an outstanding (if not best) performance of the Tchaikovsky P.C. Same for Ashkanaky's Prokofiev and Rachmaninov's Concerti/Previn. The issue of soloist/conductor failure was brought to my attention years ago when I first heard Oistrakh's Mozart V.C. on EMI. These Mozart P.Concerti are great works and require absolute attention to the keys. Can't figure out why these guys decided to play superartist??? I would have loved to hear these recordings of Ashkanazy,Pletnev,,Fischer,and Anderszewski with a conductor on the podium. Never can get enough of great performances of Mozart's great P.C.'s.
Yes, that would be nice, Tweekerman. I live in Chicago, so Barenboim does this all the time with Mozart at the CSO.

BTW: Pletnev's "Pictures From An Exhibition" is terrific, in my book.
Cdpunn,Is Barenboim with a conductor while he's on the piano? In Chicago I'm sure you get to see some big names. (New Orleans not much ever comes this way). If you get a chance check the CSO schedule for Hillary Hahn, not to be missed. If anyone reads this, and does get to see or has seen Miss Hahn's performance, please post a review(start a new thread). Yes Pletnev on the Rachmaninov #1 Paganini Theme is "different", very fast playing, very accurate rendition. I'll certainly give his Mussorgsky a listen. I think on Chopin though, I have to go with Pollini, Perahia, Ashkanazy, in that order.
Tweekerman, believe it or not, I am saying that I don't enjoy listening to just about anything Oistrakh did recorded or live. In fact, Oistrakh reminds me of another Russian artist, Emil Gilels, another one I am perplexed why there is such a huge cult following from otherwise intelligent and tasteful music lovers.
IMO, I find them both very predicable, everything sounds the same regardless of the composer or particular piece. technical uniformity and sterility mar their performances. They are some of the few "great" artists that don't sound alive or spontaneous "live" to me. i.e. ... Gilels Carnegie hall live recital, or even the Bach Double with Menuhin...
Tweekerman, I prefer Szigeti, Huberman, Heifetz, Thibaud, Busch, Neveu, Elman, Menuhin easily over Mr. O. What recordings??? All of his Beethoven Sonatas, Mozart Concertos, Bach Concertos, Shostakovich Concertos, Prokofieff Concerti and sonatas, all of his chamber music recordings, Khatchaturian Cto., etc, etc.Don't mean to trash him, he's just not my cup of tea. I can't get over his factory mechanicalness.
Hilary Hahn is OK. But honestly, in the end, she is a brat that is packaged really well. IMO, she is not in the "greats" league and don't think she ever will be. I don't think she has the sensitivity, depth or intelligence of an interesting artist. There is a 2 dimensionality to her tone and playing, a thinness and vacuosness. Just my opinion.
Tweekerman, if you don't believe that a pianist can play and conduct at the same time with good results... check out the Andreas Staier/ concerto Koln recording of Mozart concerti #'s 9 and 18. He is playing the fortepiano, and it has an "authentic" presentation, but Mozart is everywhere. Let me know if that changes your mind.
I'll give it a listen, but lets see this guy perform #'s 20-27 in dual role. By the way just got in the Oistrakh performing/conducting Mozart P.C. #3 and another performance with Oistrakh playing #3 with Galleria conducting the orchestra. hummm, Oistrakh takes them both almost exactly the same. And the orchestra playing is good in his conductor position. I'm restating my position on these Oistrakh performances. But the pianist/conductor , I stand firm.
I have 6-7 versions of concerto 21 including:

Although many of these are very good I am not entirely satisfied, and I think there is better version out there if I look a bit more. The Perahia/Sony which all the critics praise sounds a bit reserved overall to me, the Bilson/Archiv using fortepiano sounds flat/restrained compared to the additional color drama a modern piano adds.

Of all the above I think the Kovacevich/Phillips would be my favorite, and at budget price a great buy.

I would like to hear the versions by:
Try Schnabel/Sargent/L.S.O., I have it on 78. I agree with Perahia recordings, always have a lowest common denominator feel to it(which is why the critics like it so much), and Bilson always sounds flat to me too.
As for the Staier/concerto koln mozarts, I really like the interaction and general conception, but the string tone I'm finding is pretty ugly, and not "real", but there are plenty of things to like about it.
I agree with Megasam, not anyone in particular is really satisfying, so cannot give a enthusiastic recommendation on concerti #'s 20-27, except for # 25. For me, this is Mozart's most unusual composition, as when the orchestra explodes in the last movement. Like nuclear energy! Richter/Bashmet/Teldec label,Moravec/Vlach/Supraphon label, Moravec/Marriner/Hanssler Classics label, and a "new discovery" for me is the 1989 recording of Michelangeli/Garbon/North German R.S.O./DG label($20!!). All of the above are highly recommended, but I have not heard the Michelangeli, could be a winner, but won't know until I hear. Will post a review on these performances in about 3 months.

Sorry to have taken so long to respond. Barenboim IS the conductor. It's annoying from two perspectives. First, he's trying to pay attention to two things at the same time. Second, the piano is situated so that he faces the orchestra and has his back to the audience! Sucks, unless you're in the seats behind the orchestra.

Hilary Hahn was here last season, but I was out of town and missed her. Contrary to others, I think she has considerable talent, although is not in the same league as some younger violinists (Tasmin Little, Joshua Bell). I like to see these younger people play so that I can make up my own mind instead of being swayed by those with rather pedantic attitudes.

Some of us like Gilels because he played the MUSIC. He was relatively humble (although I've never met a musician who was truly humble, although George Harrison came close) and connected me to the music via him. Pletnev has the same ability, in my opinion, along with a prodigious talent. Playing by both is (or was, in Gilels case) was warm, sensitive, human....can't explain it any other way.

Same goes for another Russian pianist, Tatiana Nikolayeva (may she RIP).

I'm going to get my ass ripped for saying that any of the above is eminmently preferable to Serkin (father or son).
Different strokes. To me all I hear is notes from the great Gilels. and I was confused, do you mean to say that Tasmin Little and Josh Bell are in a higher league than Hahn??? We have very different ideas about what is a Musician or a Violinist. But I respect your views.
Yes, that's exactly what I mean. I do NOT mean, however, that either of them are peerless; rather, of the "younger" generation, I think they are better than Hahn at this stage of her career (although Bell is starting to slip and his jazzy stuff is ludicrous).

I like Akiko Suwanai better than them all, however. Wish she recorded more.

But this was more about pianists than violinists. You have some thoughts on Pletnev and Nikolayeva? I'm not expecting to agree with you on them, either, but am interested in other's opinions.
Cpd,Buxt,...Hillary Hahn for me is possibly the only new artist for violin that I consider worth buying. Can't believe your opinion of her playing. Now on her recording with Marriner/St Martins, I have to admit the conductor/orchestra really held her back, its good that its Out Of Print! (Marriner conducting the Dvorak concerto, out of his league) I'll give her recordings a more critical ear, and see what comes. But as for her Bach Partitas, possibly the best ever recorded. I've had Bach collectors state the very same opinion. Buxter you need to listen to Oistrakh/Cluytens/French N.O. on the Beethoven V.C., then post your opinion. You may change your tune on Oistrakh's playing. Szigeti and especially Heiftz are phenomenal artists!!
Tweek, I can't believe you said that about her bach!!!!
Believe me, I sooo wanted to love her Bach. And I'll grant that she really wanted to do something beyond the ordinary. You can hear that she did her "homework" listening to the old masters etc. etc.
Better than Enesco??? have you heard the enesco bach??? Better than the Menuhin Bach set??? Better than Szigeti's bach ?? (who in my opinion is easily the greatest violinist /artist of the 20th century) The expressive/tonal palette of the above artists are IMO in a different galaxy. The depth, layering, thoughtfulness, style, DIMENSION... I must admit, I don't love the Milstein set(which is great), but I would say hers leans in that direction slightly- which I would characterize as an attempt to highlight the architectural, a rather "purist" pose, linear but not unexpressive. And I find her following all the modern "rules" a bit too closely too- a little bit too PC. I wish she would follow her innate intuition more on those recordings. Her tone I find a little on the thin/lean side resulting in 2 dimensionality.
there is only 1 modern Bach set that I LOVE. and that is by Mela Tenenbaum on ESSAY records. (cd) What I like about it is an honesty, and truthfulness to her own convictions about Bach without nods and references to PC, HIP, correctness, pleasing critics etc. I didn't like it at first, but like alot of truly great things, they are not so obvious. I will look for that Oistrakh.
I wnt to school with Akiko, I couldn't disagree more. Thin mechanical playing. completely passionless.
To be honest I have not heard the artists above on the Bach. So you are correct, I should first listen to Enesco (??) and Szigeti, maybe Menuhin, though not a big fan of his other recordings. Great post, I can learn from reviews like this,and better keeps me on the track to best recordings. The Oistrakh/Cluytens was on a budget label I bought 2 years ago. sadly, I see now its out of print. hummm, there is another recording with the Berlin + a german conductor, not sure about a review, doubt its as good as the Cluytens. The only other one is with the legendary conductor Alexander Gauk(great conductor indeed!!!)/Moscow on the Classic D Oro label, 1940 recording. The sound is poor, but its worth the $7 if you love this concerto and Oistrakh as well. I have almost everything Oistrakh recorded + most of Heiftz(I'm new to Heiftz), have nothing by Szigeti. I'm abit more cautious about what I purchase, I've got my share of "dust-collecting" discs.
Look, I have serious violinist/collector friends who Love Hillary Hahn. Rave about her. It's just my taste. I would start with the Szigeti Bach's, there is a Biddulph with a selection of his works, Bach, Bartok, Brahms, and something else, it's a good start. Check out his Brahms Concerto recordings- incredible. And his Mozart Sonatas with Szell and Horszowski is my favorite recording of just about anything. It restores my faith in art and music. He is kind of the polar opposite of Heifetz (who I love). Kind of Ying to Heifetz' Yang. Or another great recording of his is the Recital at the Library of Congress with Bela Bartok at the piano, Beethoven Kreutzer, Bartok Rhapsody, Debussy Sonata, nad Bartok sonata. You'll realize that Bartok was one of the genius pianists of this century. It sounds like a great jazz colaboration. There is a philip's japanese cd pressing of the bach's. bad sound, and he was a little past his prime- which you can hear on a biddulph short pieces album. But the monumental artistry is obvious.
Check out the Bach of Menuhin's youth, it is delicious. I'm a fan, so I also appreciate his admittedly more funky and earthy(read slightly out of tune and shaky) later Bach performances. I actually prefer them, in the same way I prefer bruised, browned overly ripe peaches that when you bite in to them, the overly sweet juices run all over and it is a complete mess, but the flavor is divine.
Not to beat a dead horse, but to me Hillary Hahn, is like a very good, perfectly round, flawless, firm peach, with good color,not quite ripened yet, peach that you buy at a gourmet produce store.
sorry, philips japanese bach is of georges enesco.
I heard pletnev on the radio playing Mozart 24(?) with a german chamber orchestra, I found it engaging and him a very good pianist. Bright and healthy in tone, beautiful slow movement, and made sense of the music. I was picking up my wife at the airport, and stayed in the car to hear who it was because it wasn't the usual mindless, generic approach. I like him alot.
As for Josh Bell... He is a joke. I find he trades on his glamour boy image more than anything else. I find his playing is vulgar and distorted. Completely uninteresting. And Tasmin Little is lucky she has the Brit machine behind her, because she isn't much of a violinist or a musician(IMO).
cpdunn, as for Serkin, you are probably referring to his recordings after he moved to the US. i.e. the beethovens with bernstein and nyphil, his beethoven sonatas... etc. etc. I find all of them lifeless and sterile.
But... do you know his recordings with Adolph Busch?
The best Serkin recordings that I know of are his Schubert Fantasy with Busch(transcendant and sublime), Brahms vln sonatas with Busch, Brahms A minor piano quartet, Mozart and Haydn trios with Busch... This is the Serkin that I know and love. I have a feeling that he came to the states and was offered a limitless carte blanche recording contract and just churned them out.
You mention Bartok was a supreme pianist/artist, I completely agree. Take a listen as well to Ravel and Sarasarte performing their works on the piano rolls, absolutely stunning!!! Unbelievable! They are poetic with awesome skill. The same can be said about Rachmaninov's playing. I'll have to invest in the Szigeti. On the Pletnev, I'll have to give a second hearing. Your comparison of Hahn to a "lighter tasting peach" well describes vs the perfect tech sound of Oistrakh or the tremendous emotional content of Heiftz's playing. By the way did we ever answer Gdollar's question about the recommendation of the 21st Mozart? If he is reading along he sure is getting his money's worth on this thread! Maybe time to start other questions. BTW there is a classical chat site over at Gramophone. Its OK, hope to get better.
Yes start other threads to have more discussions on other works, it gets boring to talk about imaginary improvements we can barely detect with the latest 1K interconnect, and my CDP is better than your CDP because it costs more and has latest tweak etc.

Buxter tells it like it is, I love it. Very interesting to hear others impressions, however different they may be, heh heh. As far as best Mozart piano 21 I have to restate that I am not really happy with many of the major artists recordings: Perahia, Brendel, Ucida, Schiff and several others just seem a bit too reserved to me and lack the energy/vigor needed to draw out full contrasts in the work. I am sure there are better new versions out there for me, or even the small labels like Jando/Naxos can sometimes be preferable.(even though I only like a few in the Jando series and think the others are just average)

Also we have not fully investiged the thread on Mozart 41,
Buxter and I seem to have very different tastes here.
Mega, you need to look into the incredible recordings by Moravec before they go out of print, released 1996, which will br soon I'm sure. P.C.#24&25 Marriner/St. Martins/Hanssler Classics, conducting/fair,orchestra/OK,Sound quality/fair . P.C.#'s 14,23,25. With the legendary Vlach conducting the legendary Czech,Supraphon released 1996, so it will also very soon be out of print. You will thank me on this one. Morave is the only pianist that takes the opening to the 2nd movement in #24 perfectly, the piano is in perfect tune. About sym #41, I'll start another thread.
I'm in a bit of a rush today, so I'm going to state unsubstantiated opinions for now (yeah, what else is new!?).

I agree with your peach analogy completely vis-a-vis Hahn.

Yes, more of the US Serkin (I agree with the impression of sterility). I have none of the Busch recordings, I'm afraid.

I really like Akiko's Dvorak! I listened to it again last night and loved it. Hmmm... I did not like the Philips engineering, however. One of their worst efforts.

When I said that Joshua Bell was "slipping," I meant exactly what you state. I saw him on A&E (or was it PBS?) sometime this winter and it was embarassing. I had to change the station. Saw Shlomo Mintz in Chicago a year or so ago. He had great "presence."