SONY's latest batch of box sets brings some interesting finds. This one is a useful collection of de Larrocha's Mozart Concerto sessions with Colin Davis. They are enjoyable and musical, as one would expect from these two. But with such enormous competition, in the end, they are not really distinctive. I would probably place the blame at the hands of the conductor rather than the pianist.
Some comments now about the sound. SONY no longer displays the ubiquitous 24-bit logo on these newest box sets. And indeed, comparing Concertos #21 and 23 to a previous reissue on RCA's 2002 "Sound Dimension" series, in which 24/96 remastering was used, the recorded sound in this box is definitely - and obviously - different. These are presumably exact duplicates of the original release, with no remastering techniques applied. In this instance, there are pros and cons to each. The 24-bit Sound Dimension CD is more open, brighter and transferred at a higher volume level. But it's also rather strident on violin tone, and some unnatural highlighting in orchestral detail is more obvious. In contrast, the sound in this new box is mellower, smoother, warmer and not quite as lively. So depending on your stereo system, it could be beneficial - or not. (I actually find many in that Sound Dimension series to be strident and harsh.) Comparing Disc 6 (works for Two Pianos, with Andre Previn, which is the best of the bunch included here), with the original release, they are identical - further confirming no remastering has been applied.
Overall, I found the sound in this set to be pleasant in a laid back way, a little too dark for Mozart, and the piano sounds a bit boxy - as if the lid is closed. I can't help but think the 24-bit remaster process would almost certainly have greatly benefited these recordings, likely bringing a bit of extra life and presence to them - which they need. But, alas...we'll never know.
All in all, this is a nice set for de Larrocha fans, and/or if you like your Mozart very traditional, warmly Romantic and mellow, rather than incisive. To my ear, it's very much Colin Davis's Mozart.
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