To celebrate what would have been Friedrich Gulda’s 90th birthday (16 May 2020) his all-time classic recordings of Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 20, 21, 25 & 27 have been reissued. The recordings have been remastered from the original multitrack tapes and are available as a special package, including 2CDs and a Blu-ray Audio disc, and as eAlbums.
Friedrich Gulda was committed to Mozart in a way he was to no other composer. For him, Mozart was undoubtedly “the master of all masters”. There are special commonalities between the interpreter and the composer: each garnered acclaim as a child prodigy, each was a gifted improviser and a provocateur with a penchant for irreverent humour.
“The work of an artist entirely sure of his vision” – Gramophone
Friedrich Gulda’s Mozart Piano Concertos Nos. 20, 21, 25 & 27 were recorded in 1974 and 1975 in Vienna’s Musikvereinssaal with the Vienna Philharmonic and Claudio Abbado. In his liner notes Jed Distler observes, “The Gulda/Abbado Mozart collaborations were not only a meeting of minds; they also marked a genial reunion: Abbado had studied the piano with Gulda early in his career (as did Martha Argerich).” Gramophone noted that Friedrich Gulda’s “Mozart piano concertos with the Vienna Philharmonic under Abbado, is the work of an artist entirely sure of his vision …” and The Times remarked, “These are urgent, fiery performances. There is plenty of spaciousness to Abbado’s conducting, plenty of individual characterization and lyricism in Gulda’s handling of the musical ideas …”
Mozart’s dramatic Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor was completed on 10 February 1785 at the height of his popularity in Vienna and became one of his best-known and most highly regarded concertos. It is the first of only two piano concertos Mozart wrote in a minor key. The young Ludwig van Beethoven admired this concerto and kept it in his repertoire.
Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major was completed on 9 March 1785, just four weeks after the completion of his previous D minor concerto, and is one of his best-known and technically demanding concertos. The famous ‘Andante’ was featured in the 1967 Swedish film Elvira Madigan and, as a result, the work, became widely known as the Elvira Madigan Concerto.
Mozart completed Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major on 4 December 1786. Although two more concertos would later follow this work is the last of what are considered the twelve great piano concertos written in Vienna between 1784 and 1786. Even though this concerto is considered one of Mozart’s finest it did not receive recognition until after his death.
Piano Concerto No. 27 in Bb major is Mozart’s last piano concerto. It was completed in January 1791, the year of his death. The concerto was written at the end of a difficult period in Mozart’s life and some have said that this work was his farewell.
Classical and jazz pianist Friedrich Gulda (16 May 1930 – 27 January 2000) was one of the most outstanding pianists of his generation. He won first prize at the Geneva International Music Competition in 1946, which helped launch his career, and made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1950. He is most renowned for his Mozart and Beethoven interpretations. His piano students included Martha Argerich, who called Gulda “my most important influence” and the conductor Claudio Abbado. From the 1950s Friedrich Gulda cultivated a professional interest in jazz and free improvisation.
Friedrich Gulda’s Mozart Piano Concertos Nos. 20, 21, 25 & 27, recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic and Claudio Abbado, can be bought here.