24 March, 2011

HiFi Letter from NYC 2011 (11): Through a Glass, Darkly

HiFi Letter from NYC 2011 (11): Through a Glass, Darkly
CD Recommendation: Classical

Waking up in the middle of the night, it was dark all around me. I stole into the kitchen to make some coffee. A while later, sipping it in my hifi room I started to come around the jet lag - not physically, but spiritually.

4:00 am, too early to play music. By 5:30 I felt the urgent need and turned on the system and listened at extremely low level through the Maggies.

I played these CDs, and did they uplift me! I played the Mozart sonatas recorded by Richter with violinist Oleg Kagan. My copy is the original EMI issue, but I think it's now available only in the budget box set, a fine value. Richter's Mozart can be idiosyncratic, and Kagan can be grating sometimes, but in K378 they gave a timeless performance.

Later I played Annie Fischer's Mozart concerti. Again, my copy was an earlier Seraphim. The playing is rather muscular, as is wont with this great artist. What's also priceless was the detailed and dramatic accompaniment by the Philharmonia under Sawallisch. Probing accounts that are among the best.

These performances are not the smooth Mozart one so often hears. They are highly intelligent accounts that reflect great study and musicianship. As listener, we also never get to the bottom of the works. That's what WONDER is all about.

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