Shostakovich, Mozart and Bach Piano Concertos
Constantine Orbelian, piano
Moscow Chamber Orchestra
Although this is a new release from Delos, it isn't a new recording. Constantine Orbelian is best known today as the innovative conductor of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, but initially he was primarily a concert pianist. This 1992-1993 recording happened at a pivotal point in Orbelian's career. He was working with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and their conductor Andrei Korsakov when Korsakov died prematurely at the age of 47. The ensemble asked Orbelian to assume leadership, and he's been their conductor ever since.
With the exception of the Mozart concerto for Two Pianos, all the works on this release were recorded with Korsakov conducting the orchestra. The collection opens with the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Shostakovich. It's a sassy and sarcastic reading, its slightly off-skew character sounding a little like Prokofiev. The final movement is an out-and-out romp between the trumpet and piano in a race to the finish.
Orbelian performs two Mozart concertos here. The Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365 features pianist Jonathan Shames. The chemistry between the two soloists is good, and it sounds like they had a rollicking good time playing together. Orbelian's performance of Mozart's Piano concerto No. 12, K.414 is a little lower. The work comes off as somewhat sedate, although Orbelian plays with lightness and sensitivity throughout.
The final work on the album is Bach's Keyboard Concerto No. 5, BWV 1056, which Orbelian chooses to perform on the piano. Strangely, the sound for this piece (as compared to the others) sounds a little closed-in.
Orbelian is a talented conductor, and as these recordings show, he's a gifted pianist as well. A welcome addition to the Moscow Chamber Orchestra's extensive catalog of recordings.