Fazil Say Mozart (Piano Concertos N° 12, 21 & 23)
Open iTunes to preview, buy, and download music.
Superb Recording of Mozart Piano Concertos by Fazil Say
#12 in A, K 414 (1782)
Scored for two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, and strings, it can also be performed a quattro with just the strings as it is here. An early work of Mozart’s, it’s also one of his most famous and I’m not surprised Fazil choose it. It is beautiful and I love it, but up against Nos. 21 and 23, it ranks as my third favorite on the album. My favorite movement from the concerto is the Andante, and when my mood is romantic or nostalgic this is something that I stop and listen to.
#21 in C, K 467 (1785)
My second favorite of the three concertos, this is often referred to as the Elvira Madigan concerto after a Swedish film that used the Andante movement ad nauseam throughout its score. The story of Elvira Madigan is marginally interesting, but the film is not.
The cadenzas that Fazil played for the both the Allegro Maestoso and Allegro Vivace Assai are my absolute favorites in this concerto. The cadenza in the first movement is very playful and I feel like Fazil the Jazz Musician is just below the surface, peaking out to see if anybody else wants to play. It’s music like this that makes me think Fazil Say is not only a superb musician, but probably really fun to hang out with, too. How can you write and play music like this and not be a seriously cool person?
The third movement provides the concerto with a sense of closure, and Fazil’s cadenza makes me feel like I’m being tucked in for the night with a lullaby and a bedtime story. I don’t always getting that feeling of closure from a piece of music, which isn’t a bad thing because usually I wish it would go on and on forever. But his cadenza for this movement is very much in tune with the spirit of a conclusion.
#23 In A, K 488 (1786)
This is my favorite of these concertos, and probably my favorite of all Mozart’s concertos as well. I love all three movements, the second and third in particular. Fazil plays this beautifully, and when I have an uninterrupted opportunity to listen to my iPod for 15 – 20 minutes, I almost always play Adagio and Allegro Assai from this piece.
In the Adagio movement I began to get an idea about what it means to play so slowly and softly. Early in my discovery of Fazil Say’s music I listened to his recording of Beethoven with a much different expectation than what I got; The Tempest in particular. To go from the Beethoven to the Mozart concertos was startling. My first impression was that the orchestra forced him to slow down, and that despite how beautifully he played, he must have felt restrained. After many months, and having listened to these pieces nearly every day, I developed a new view on this type of playing. Playing softly and beautifully isn’t about showing restraint. That kind of playing is too intimate; it requires us to drop our defenses and be completely open and vulnerable. This idea has also been shaped by my own desire to play the piano. Fazil doesn’t always choose the most complicated pieces for his recordings. Many of them are simple enough for even me to learn as a new pianist. But playing them as beautifully as he does, with the nuance of someone who taps into a deeper level of emotion, is very complex.
The Allegro Assai is my favorite movement in this concerto and on this album. It is seven minutes and fifty four seconds of pure joy as far as I’m concerned. It is the epitome of music that makes me want to sing and dance and be a good person. If you’re standing behind me at a coffee shop when I’ve listened to this piece anytime in the last four hours, I will buy your coffee for you. It makes me feel that good. It also solidifies my theory that Fazil Say is probably a guy with a great sense of humor who likes to have fun. Nobody can make music sound like this who isn’t awesome.