The Manchester Camerata’s Mozart, Made in Manchester series here continued with another superb instalment, delivered with the panache and punch we have come to expect from the pairing of Gábor Takács-Nagy and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Gábor Takács-Nagy and the Manchester Camerata
© Manchester Camerata

This concert tackled two big guns of the latter concertos, numbers 24 and 25, each prefaced with a brief aperitif. The C minor concerto, no. 24, was the highlight of the evening. The Camerata’s approach to these performances and recordings has always been big-boned, with ample artistic licence applied to changes of dynamics and pacing, and this was no exception. From the outset the orchestral sound was meaty, led by blaring horns in a vigorous maelstrom of C minor. Bavouzet, though cutting a supremely relaxed figure at the keyboard, played with typical exuberance, with big flourishes following his more dramatic phrases and some spectacular fireworks in the first movement cadenza. Elsewhere, he was as much a sensitive accompanist as virtuosic showman, and the woodwind solos in particular were allowed as much prominence as the piano in the appropriate places. After a spaciously meditative slow movement, the finale marched along with unwavering crisp precision before a heady dash to the finish.

No. 25 took a similar approach though in a wholly different style, here one of excitable grandeur. Some might see Takács-Nagy’s high-res approach as bordering on micro-management in the depth of expressive detail he plumbs from Mozart, though this never felt to be a distraction. His players pulled off his demands for variations in dynamics and phrasing with unerring gusto, making this some of the most thrilling Mozart one could hope to hear. Bavouzet again played both showman and accomplice, cheekily slipping a quotation of La Marseillaise to the first movement cadenza, and elsewhere interacting with the orchestra so closely as to give a strong sense of music being made between friends. The second movement’s dialogues between woodwind and piano were especially engaging, and the finale danced along busily with further exquisite attention to detail.

The evening’s aperitifs consisted of an exhilarating romp through the Figaro overture and what Takács-Nagy announced as probably the first UK performance of Anna Amalia von Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel’s overture to Erwin and Elmire. The latter, very much in the style of Haydn, proved a pleasant curio in three parts, and made for an interesting change from Mozart overtures. 

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