A striking moment occurs early in K456: the unearthly lunge of a repeated figure. It shows the sophistication of the Cleveland strings and demonstrates how, in directing them herself, Mitsuko Uchida draws out Mozart's originality . . . fascinating. The central Andante of K456 spins a wondrous web of endlessly sustained lyricism, held aloft by Uchida's precisely graded lines: truly miraculous playing. Here, and in the Figaro-like Allegretto of K459, the Cleveland wind are superbly evocative of Mozart's night-time vision.
. . . [these are] readings that have all the intelligence and refinement that audiences have come to expect of this great Mozartian. There is a real sense of a stimulating conversation between soloist and orchestra . . . gracefully played.
One of the greatest pianists of our time returns to two marvellous Mozart concertos . . . As should be expected, Uchida brings grace and flair to her performance. The Cleveland Orchestra too, with which Uchida has a truly tangible rapport, provide superbly subtle support.
What a relief . . . to find lightness and elegance twinkling away in Mitsuko Uchida's latest Mozart disc . . . Directing piano concertos Nos 18 and 19 from the keyboard, she keeps cool even when harmonies and rhythms take their turn for the strange during No 18's finale . . . for her sparkling fingerwork and the clear recording I give much thanks.
Dame Mitsuko has recorded all this stuff before, but I find a greater concentration in this new cycle, simply because she is a more mature artist. Plus, there's the extra discipline of having to direct the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as play, resulting in more intense music-making.
. . . sparkling accounts of two of the composer's loveliest contributions to the genre . . . the truly gratifying aspect of these performances of the 18th and 19th Concerti -- one that is obvious from the first bar of the recording -- is the freshness of Ms. Uchida's interpretations. As in her celebrated performances of Schubert's piano music, she seeks the impetus for her recreations of the unique architecture of Mozart's Concerti in the music itself . . . DECCA's production values provide a recording in which every detail of Ms. Uchida's interpretations can be enjoyed in clear, naturally-balanced sound that never betrays the 'live' circumstances of the recording. These performances are . . . the culminations of new exchanges between one of the greatest composers and one of the most distinguished exponents of his music. The controlled fluidity of Ms. Uchida's manner as both pianist and conductor coalesces impeccably with the playing of The Cleveland Orchestra . . . the Orchestra personnel respond to Ms. Uchida's direction with suppleness of phrasing that dovetails flawlessly with both her comprehensive conceptions of the scores and the distinctive subtleties of her pianism . . . the strings offer slender but full-bodied tone that nods to 21st-Century notions of period-appropriate playing without sacrificing the weight of sound that has served the Orchestra so well in Romantic works. Principal flautist Joshua Smith . . . performs the flute parts in both Concerti with the commands of breath and rounded tone of the best bel canto singers, his awesomely reliable intonation put to radiant use in the solo flute line in the Andante movement of the B-flat Major Concerto. The eloquence of his playing is equaled by the oboes, bassoons, and horns, and the Clevelanders again prove themselves to be among the world's finest orchestras . . . these performances reaffirm that she is among the most prescient Mozarteans of her generation.
. . . [the Cleveland Orchestra's characteristically dry, agile string work] fits Uchida's aims very nicely. Her world of grace, subtle phrasing, and uncannily precise trills and ornaments is not so different from what her established fans will be used to, but the intricate, lively dialogue she forges with the orchestra is something new. "The Piano Concerto No. 18 in B flat major, K. 456", with all the little humorous fillips in the orchestra that seem to be forgotten only to sneak back into the piano part later, is magical . . . [Mozart 19]: there are many good details, and the madcap fun of the finale comes through. A must for Uchida fans, and a strong pair of Mozart concertos for everyone else.
Wie genau sie das Orchester eingeschworen hat, hört man bereits im Vorspiel des B-Dur-Konzerts: Streicher und Bläser bilden ein dichtes, aber jederzeit transparentes Gewebe, mit vielen dynamischen Valeurs, die Uchida anschließend nahtlos aufs Klavier überträgt. Die Dialoge mit dem Orchester bestehen aus einem geistreichen Für und Wider, was sich auch in ihrem [Anschlag spiegelt. Dadurch gewinnt ihr Vortrag] zusätzlich an Lebendigkeit.