July 07, 2004
Adrenalin alert: Serkin plays Mozart's Piano Concerto Number 19

My name is Brian and I am addicted to classical music. So far so good. Nothing wrong with that. But my name is also Brian, and I am addicted to classical CDs. Not quite so good. But we classical CD addicts can give ourselves a fix from a fixed collection. We can handle it.

However, my name is also Brian, and I am also addicted to buying classical CDs. Bad. What that means is that at the moment of discovering the bargain I get an adrenalin rush of joy, quite distinct from any adrenaline rushes I might later get from actually listening to the thing.

Luckily for me I am only addicted to buying bargain classical CDs. Buying a full price CD is something I only do about once a year, and any adrenalin rush associated with that is entirely the result of listening to the CD, never merely with the buying of it. But there are an awful lot of bargains out there these days.

SerkinMozart1920.jpgYesterday I found this CD in a bargain CD shop, at way less than what the record company is asking. Serkin playing Mozart piano concertos 19 and 20, both wonderful pieces, both wonderfully played. Serkin was still at the top of his form when he made these recordings, which he wasn't by the time he recorded some more Mozart piano concertos for DGG.

Mozart's Piano Concerto number 20 is famously fine, but number 19 is wonderful too, and this was the recording by means of which, in the long gone age of vinyl, I got to know it. 19 is unusual in that it has a dance type episode in the middle of the last movement, involving a different tune to the regular tune, not unlike the comparable episodes that occur in the finales of Beethoven's first two piano concertos. For some reason Mozart had never done this in a piano concerto before – same speed, different tune –and never did it again, although Number 20 has a fast outburst in the slow movement, and Number 13 (I think) has a slow passage in (I think) the finale.

I get the biggest adrenalin rush of all when a favourite LP from long ago, which the record company has ignored for decades, finally makes it onto CD, and I find it going cheap, in a carboard box, sold by a fat sweaty man in a white T-shirt with strange messages on it, who knows nothing about classical music and doesn't know what a bargain it is and how much more he could have charged me for it.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:32 PM
Category: Classical music