Concerto for 2 pianos & orchestra in E flat major ("Concerto No. 10"), K. 365 (K. 316a)
Concerto for 3 (or 2) pianos & orchestra in F major ("Lodron," "Concerto No. 7"), K. 242
Fantasia for mechanical organ in F minor, K. 608
Variations (5) on an original theme for piano, 4 hands in G major, K. 501
Originally released in 1991, this recording has been through several reissues that have tweaked both the sound and the contents. It's hard to blame Sony for recycling it, for the album was a winner from the start; it has been supplanted by historical-instrument recordings but remains state-of-the-art for performances using modern instruments. Combining tracks recorded in 1988 and 1990, this was originally the tail end of Murray Perahia's justly celebrated cycle of Mozart concertos. The central attraction is the "Concerto for two pianos and orchestra in E flat major, K. 365," where Perahia, Radu Lupu, and the English Chamber Orchestra, all without benefit of a conductor, deliver a performance that's spacious, imposing, detailed, and spontaneous, all at the same time. All the musicians seem to operate as a single unit, with the drama provided by the orchestra in the opening material of the first movement answered by supple dual explorations from the two pianists. The program is filled out with rather unusual works, which has also added to the album's appeal down through the years. The "Concerto for three pianos and orchestra in F major, K. 242," is presented in Mozart's own two-piano arrangement, which attests to the composer's fondness for this lightweight little piece. The "Fantasia in F minor, K. 608," originally for an instrument known as a mechanical clock, mechanical organ, or flute-clock (it is a small machine with a clock on the front, above which miniature organ pipes would be automatically activated by the mechanism, an "authentic" performance would also include moving pastoral scenes on one panel, some of which could apparently get somewhat erotic). Mozart transcribed the work for two pianos, and Ferruccio Busoni later expanded this transcription in much the same way as he did the works of Bach, adding chromatic complications and late Romantic phrasing and pedal use. Perahia and Lupu take this yet another step, restoring material from the original that Busoni omitted. Finally is the rarely played "Andante and Variations for four hands in G major, K. 501," which cleanses the palate after the sweet flavors of the Busoni. At a true budget price level, this may be the reissue of choice; at least one other version of the disc includes music by Brahms that breaks the carefully constructed mood of the program.