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January/February 2000

Keith Jarrett
Mozart Piano Concertos K.271, 453, 466, Adagio and Fugue in C minor K.546
ECM New Series

Jarrett brings to his Mozart repertoire steadiness of interpretation and relaxation that may surprise listeners who know him mainly for the adventurousness and quirks of his celebrated marathon solo recordings. A jazz pianist performing classical music might be expected to take rubato liberties. Jarrett does not. His reading of the magnificent pre-Romantic D-minor concerto No. 20, K. 466, employs effective dynamics without extremes in the direction of Arthur Rubenstein's daring and exuberance in the rondo, Mitsuko Uchida's mystique behind the beat in the romance movement or Clara Haskil's blurred articulation at the piano entry in the allegro. With precision, and power in reserve, Jarrett comes out of the D-minor closer to the conservatism of John O'Connor or Murray Perahia than to the adventures in touch and phrasing of any number of pianists, including Artur Schnabel, Yvonne Lefebure, Eugene List, and, on the rare occasions when he tackled a Mozart concerto, the exquisitely eccentric Glenn Gould. Mozart's genius lends itself to a wide range of visions. Jarrett's respectful versions of the D-minor concerto, the slightly earlier G-major and the much earlier E-flat major (written when Mozart was 21) are good starting places for those who want to enter Mozart's endlessly stimulating universe.

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Johanna Goodman

illustration of Keith Jarrett

Originally published in January/February 2000
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