Friedrich Gulda is known to all. He is the musical wizard with the embroidered cap, an artist who is equally at home in jazz, the Viennese lied, or the works of the Viennese Classic. Gulda might have only performed a small number of his Austrian compatriot?s 27 piano concerto ? but with these few he certainly created a sensation. That the present recording of the Concertos Nos. 20 and 21, even after 25 years, is still regarded as ranking among the very best performances is something that can be heard after just a few bars. The minor-key first movement of No. 20 begins with a measured tempo and precise articulation, then the piano joins in with almost sober clarity and proceeds to lead a concentrated, tightly enmeshed conversation with the orchestra.
The C major Concerto sparkles brightly with its thrilling, virtuoso part-writing and transparent, almost chamber-like instrumental ensemble. Details left only fleetingly touched and casual phrasing will be sought in vain in this highly analytical interpretation of Mozart?s musical intentions. The listener will do well here to forget the popular concept of a fun-loving, high-spirited Mozart and to recognize the ardent, passionate side of the composer.