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** MOZART: Piano Concertos Nos. 18 and 19; Andreas Staier, fortepiano; Concerto Koln, Teldec

November 19, 2000|RICHARD S. GINELL

In the interest of musico-political correctness, the humble fortepiano continues to muscle the modern grand piano aside as the vehicle of choice for many in the Mozart concertos--and some of us finally have had enough. It may have been a fresh approach when Malcolm Bilson recorded his Mozart concerto cycle more than a decade ago. But the novelty has since worn thin, for the fortepiano's static dynamic range and dry, muted tone quality turn Mozart into something suitable only for overhearing on easy-listening classical radio stations.

To his credit, at least Andreas Staier tries to make this instrument come alive; he plays Mozart with absolute staccato clarity, fast tempos and as much expression as he can muster. But the fortepiano is hopelessly overmatched; indeed, the 23-member, conductor-less Concerto Koln's robust, vigorous playing only underlines the fragility of the keyboard sounds.

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