- Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83
- Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, K. 595
While these performances by Wilhelm Backhaus (born 1884) of Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 27," from 1960, and Brahms' "Piano Concerto No. 2," from 1968, accompanied by Karl Böhm (born 1894) may not stand up to the level of technical expertise modern listeners have come to expect, close listening reveals much to admire here. That's because the performances are all about the music and hardly at all about the interpreters. Backhaus never possessed the super-virtuosity of Horowitz, but he understood the music far better. Again and again, one is struck by the rightness of Backhaus' choices, by the pellucid warmth of his phrasing in the central Larghetto of Mozart's concerto, and by the rapturous joy of his rhythms in the closing Allegretto grazioso of the Brahms. Böhm is also impressive in his sympathetic approach both to accompanying Backhaus and to bringing out the loveliness inherent in these scores. The Vienna Philharmonic fails to perform with consistent beauty of tone, and there are passages in which the playing is surprisingly sloppy, but most of the time, it is the great VPO, and its performances have the kind of depth and affection that only it can bring to the music. Taped at the Salzburg Festival for live radio broadcast, the monaural sound is thin and two-dimensional, though Orfeo's remastering does what can be done to clarify the antique recording.