On successive nights there were adjacent Mozart piano concertos, both led from the piano and performed in ways remarkably far apart. In No. 22 (K. 482), at the Philharmonic, Christian Zacharias seemed melted and made amorous by the miraculous songs welling up from Mozart’s winds; he even invited their soft singing into the first-movement cadenza he himself had devised. Next night, however, in No. 21 (K. 467) with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at Royce Hall, Jeffrey Kahane seemed determined to withstand the blandishments even of the divine slow movement‘s endless melody. It was a steely sort of performance he gave, with tempos in the outer movements that blurred passagework now and then and left crucial melodic turns somewhat unfulfilled. I kept thinking of the late Robert Casadesus, whose crystalline, tinkly Mozart some people admired, others did not.
I have heard better Mozart from Kahane, and hope to again. In any case, his program also had French hornist Richard Todd in a romp through that sublime giggle, the First Concerto from Richard Strauss’ days of youth: glorious, restorative music by a composer who was soon to go astray but hadn‘t yet.